I am a nurse. I sometimes think I was born a nurse. Of course that is silly, but always within my heart, I have felt empathy for people who may be hurting, embarrassed, or simply disadvantaged. I guess I was destined to take that career path. So as an adult, I immersed myself into studying for just that purpose.
I began my nursing journey after a serious life threatening illness. The two private duty nurses that oversaw my care during my recovery, inspired me to go back to school and acquire the skills and knowledge base that would launch me as a Registered Nurse. So, I was formally trained from books, had the pathophysiology pounded into my brain in college, and clinically overseen by my professors to make sure I learned the practical part of my nursing job without putting any of my patients in danger. Mistakes I could have made were never allowed to be life threatening and the burden of knowing that my decisions and actions might adversely affect a “real live” human being, weighed heavily on me. I took it seriously, always rethinking and prioritizing my choices, asking colleagues for their opinion and double checking to reassure myself that first I would do no harm. I didn’t want to be that “clear and present” danger to my patients. On any different work day I might have 3-8 patients under my care…each depending upon me to do the right thing, make the correct decision. And after almost 40 years of nursing, I look back and can be at peace because I held myself to that high standard and delivered the best care to my patients on a daily basis. They were and still are my highest priority.
Now imagine if the fate of a nation and 300+ million humans depended on the balance of your knowledge and decision-making skills. Scary, right? This is our President-elect right now. And so far, I am frightened, very frightened because he seems to have little interest in schooling himself in the very things that will protect us from danger. Refusing daily security briefings, exhibiting signs of seeking favors from foreign governments to enhance his own business profits, choosing people for jobs who have lurked on the fringes of society instead of making choices from a well-qualified, educated and experienced pool of candidates who might help him guide our nation through the daily chaos of world events. We should be afraid and cautious. For our very lives depend upon it, just as your life depends upon the physician making the correct diagnosis, or the surgeon making the right incision, or the nurse giving you the right pill or chemotherapy infusion. All very basic. Would you be concerned if this was going to directly affect your body? Absolutely. You may not be poor, or homosexual, or elderly or Muslim, or a person of color, but that does not mean that you can just turn a blind eye to what is happening to those around you. We are and should be our brother’s keeper. It is simply the right thing to do.
Anguish, pain, despair, fear! They all have a smell, a taste and it is sour! I’ve witnessed this in many patients throughout my years as a nurse. Today and everyday since November 8, 2016, our nation is screaming in pain, anguish, despair and fear. It is palpable. It is visible in the protests occurring in cities across our nation and the world. I am one small voice, one small cog in the wheel of our great nation. It is my job as a nurse to try to sooth the pain, calm the fear and replace despair and anguish with hope.
What is your job?