What I would say to young Nurse Jackie

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Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC
Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

We just celebrated Nurses Week. One week out of 52 where people try and remember why nurses are so special. I mean, who else celebrates with you when you have a BM after not going for a couple of days?

Who else gets spit on, scratched, kicked, called racial/ethnic/sexually oriented slurs or demeaning names and still goes home and tells their family they had a good day (without being a masochist)? 

Who else's job is the definition of empathy and compassion? And in the profession of long-term care, who else gets to know, love and look after your loved one like their own family. It is us, the nurse.

Most nurses are born with compassion and the innate need to care for others. It is in our DNA. But a lot of "experience" gets us to a place of contentment that occurs with maturity. 

I was recently looking through some pictures as I was cleaning my home office and I found my nursing graduation class photo. There's little nurse Jackie, all in white, nursing cap pinned tightly to her hair, with this huge smile of excitement on her face. (I look 12 years old in the picture, I swear!)  

I started thinking: If young Nurse Jackie knew what she would have to go through to get a smile of contentment on her face, would that huge smile turn to a look of horror? Could I have let her know that everything she would go through would be what would bring about that smile of contentment she wears now?

If I could tell little Nurse Jackie something, I think it would be that all of those experiences don't harden you like other careers. Instead, they make you strong enough to face what you must in a field of healthcare, while creating in you the ability to accept and emphasize. A great gift if you ask me.

So I would tell young Nurse Jackie that along the way she will meet some terrific mentors and bosses and some horrific ones. But God has a purpose for both. She will hold a dying patient in her arms as they pass over, and understand a bit more about the meaning of life. I would tell her not to change a thing (except maybe a hair style or two — what was I thinking in the mid-'90s?)

And lastly I would tell her to keep learning, continue getting certifications, grow in this career as much she can and never sway from this calling. That she will never regret devoting her life to the service of others.

I would love to hear from you in the comment section below. What would you tell your young self? Please share with us. Bless you and Happy Nurses Week!

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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The Real Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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