I have always loved being a nurse. … and Harriet was a big influence for me becoming a nurse.
Harriet was a jolly, funny woman who always had a smile on her face. If you were hurt, she made you laugh and feel better. Harriet was my godmother and “go to” person. When I was five I decided to leave home because I was fed up with the rules. I packed my little suitcase, my doll Susie, and left. I took refuge two doors down from my house, under one of Harriet’s bushes. Of course, she found me, coaxed me out with treats and took me home.
The Neighborhood Nurse
In our neighborhood, you called Harriet if anyone hurt themselves whether a child or adult. Little did I know then; but my brother Jack’s penchant for accidents was planting seeds for my career.
Over the years, Harriet was called to assess his injuries from ice skating, baseball or bike riding. Jack made many trips to the ER, and Harriet was his personal triage nurse.
She touched lives in such a positive way – always available when anyone needed help. She was the local triage, urgent aid, and home care nurse for the neighborhood.
Harriet even went with us to visit my dying Grandmother. I don’t exactly remember how she came to be with us on that visit, but I was so glad she was there. I was 15 and very upset about my losing my Grandmother. Harriet explained what was going on and why my Grandma’s breathing “sounded” funny. She comforted my Dad and assured us Grandma was not suffering, all the while, helping us through the death and dying process.
We got the call late at night that my Grandma had died and I was so upset because I thought she died alone. Several months later, Harriet found the nun that had been with my Grandma when she died. She wasn’t alone and Harriet knew I needed to hear that so she arranged for me to meet the nun. What comfort that provided to me!
Her ability to help others and make a difference in their lives while making it look easy, left such an impression on me. Harriet is the reason I became a nurse. I thought all nurses were like her, and I wanted to be like her.
Becoming a nurse
I love being a nurse and always have. I haven’t always loved the situations I’ve witnessed or the pressures but each role/phase of my career has been enlightening.
My experience includes roles as a staff nurse in Pediatrics, Med-Surg, and Oncology; a house supervisor, clinical educator and Director of Education, and have taught in schools of nursing and a university. Now I am a consultant running the Northern Illinois Healthcare Education Network, a continuing education network for nurses and other healthcare providers.
Becoming a nurse is a journey. Along the way, I have worked with scores of nurses who are trying hard to be the best they can be and make a difference in the lives of those in their care. It is a joy to converse with colleagues about how we can make our healthcare environments great places to work. So we can make them great places to provide exceptional patient care.
As I look back on my career and think about who influenced me (starting with Harriet), I have been shaped by both positive and negative experiences. Witnessing the effect individual behaviors have on my colleagues and the work environment has been incredibly instructive. We all influence each other.
I want to start a dialogue about becoming a nurse, the nursing practice and the environment in which care is provided. Over the past 12 years, I have worked with staff, managers and charge nurses both in hospitals and physician practices to help them build the skills necessary to succeed in their roles.
Let’s start a dialogue. Let’s begin with why did you become a nurse? Did you have a Harriet? Who influenced your decision to become a nurse? How would you describe a good nurse? Let me a note in the comments or on my Facebook page.