Somewhere There’s A Nurse


Nursing, the most trusted profession in America. We don’t think about it often in the hustle and bustle of our everyday, but that’s a pretty intense statistic. People trust us, exclusively, with almost every aspect of their lives. Through the good and the bad we are who they turn to. They expect us to be on our game, present, and know all the answers, at any given moment. We don’t get to have an “off” day, or someone may die. We must sift through the mess, dig to the bottom, and give every ounce of ourselves to anyone who walks through the door. We learn to watch for trends, patterns, or any subtle clue that may tell us something is about to go down. This isn’t bad, in fact, it’s pretty awesome, and I am most certainly not complaining. This is my job, my calling, and huge portion of who I am. It’s an honor to care for these people, even in their darkest moments.

I was thinking about Nurses Week, how one week a year everyone tells us how great we are, and how thankful they are that we, “do what we do.” Regardless of what your calling may be as a nurse, this is your time to shine. Truth is, I know they appreciate us all year-long, even if they don’t vocalize it, but it’s easy to forget about the daily sacrifices we all make if you’re not on the ground running. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Nurses week, I think it’s a nice gesture, and I am always happy to receive my new cup, tote, flashlight, or whatever the gift of the year may be. Just a token of appreciation for our hard work; but to me, being a nurse is so much more.

I have had the honor of knowing and meeting so many amazing nurses in my life, not just in the ER, but all over the place. Though we all have vastly different jobs, they are equally as important. We all play a vital role in the health care system and overall well-being of our patients, and not one of us could function independently. We need each other to get by.

I worked triage this past weekend, and for anyone that is an ER nurse, you know what an interesting group you can encounter in just one shift. You are literally the front line, the face of the hospital, and the catch-all for whatever stumbles in. Talk about being on your game, this is it. Every person has the potential to crump, to leave out a minor “detail” that could change everything, or to be “that patient,” the one that teaches you a lesson you will never forget. This is not a solo job, there is so much work that goes on behind the scenes, but even so, it’s a pretty scary place to be. My biggest fear sitting in that chair? That someone will run in carrying a blue, limp baby. It’s happened, more than once, but it’s never fun, and it takes days, sometimes weeks for me to shake. You see, I have been that mother, the one whose tiny babies weren’t able to breathe on their own and were born that scary shade of blue, the one your gut just knows is bad, and even though we like to think that as nurses we are prepared for anything, we aren’t. We are human, and we get terrified just like everyone else.

Scared does not adequately describe the way I felt the day my girls were born. They were early, and I knew they would be, so I thought I was ready. Ready for whatever they could throw my way. Well it turns out I wasn’t ready after all, but you know who was? Their nurses. Those NICU nurses are incredible. I trusted them with my heart and soul. Not that the neonatologist weren’t great, because they were, but they spent minutes a day with us. The nurses were there every single second for weeks on end. They laughed with me, cried with me, understood me, and didn’t judge me when I was losing my mind over spilt milk, bradycardia, and grams of weight. They trusted me, they helped me feel like a mother, even though I couldn’t even carry my girls more than 2 feet away from their isolettes. So incredible the relationship I created with these people. I may have just met them, but they loved me and my girls like family, that was the only thing that got me through those long sleepless nights.

A couple of years ago my grandmother called to tell me she was having a hard time breathing. I sent my husband (who is a paramedic) to check on her. He found her ashen, gray, and diaphoretic, with a heart rate of 12, yes 12. EMS paced her in route and she made it to the ER, to the ICU, and then she arrested. I trusted those ICU nurses and the cath lab nurses without ever thinking twice. They are incredible at what they do, and I knew they would treat her like one of their own. They did, they saved her. She slowly got better, and walked out of the hospital a few weeks later. She is still alive and doing well, I couldn’t be more grateful to all the nurses along the way, I credit their hardwork and dedication for the joy I feel knowing she will attend my girls third birthday party tomorrow. So many moments we almost lost.

It’s easy sometimes to forget the importance of the all the nurses around us. We get focused on our field, our work, and the guts and glory aspect of our job. Is it awesome? Yes. Do I absolutely love it? Yes. But it’s not for everyone, and that doesn’t mean their work is any less meaningful. Right this minute, all around the world, there are nurses working tirelessly to save lives and help others.

Somewhere there’s a nurse compressing the chest of a 40 year old father who just arrested in front of his family. Somewhere there’s a nurse reminding sweet Mrs. Jones for the 460th time today where her room is. Somewhere there’s a nurse who’s hungry, hasn’t peed in 8 hours, and is trying to pass evening meds before the end of her shift. Somewhere there’s a nurse consoling a parent whose whole world just turned upside down with the loss of a child. Somewhere there’s a nurse being berated and belittled by a doctor. There’s a nurse rocking a crying baby, emptying the tiniest chest tube you could ever imagine, and measuring urine output by weighing a diaper no bigger than your palm. Somewhere there’s a nurse taking vitals, giving shots, and holding hands. There’s a nurse intently watching as the 17 year olds ICP creeps up, 3 days after he crashed his motorcycle. There’s a nurse preparing to intubate a 10 year old who is having an anaphylactic reaction, placing a COPD’er on rescue Bipap, and cracking the chest of a stabbing victim as a last ditch effort.

There are nurses who quit their jobs, sacrificed countless hours with their families, and lived at school for years to be able to put you to sleep and keep you safe during surgery. Those nurses eyes can’t leave their patient, not for one second, they hold your life in their hands. There are nurses who function as practitioners, making decisions and placing orders just like doctors, but yet still battle the “just a nurse” mentality. There are nurses who come into your home, to help you when you can’t help yourself. There are nurses helping young healthy people, learn to walk again after the traumatic loss of a limb. There are directors, managers, and CNO’s, who have attended more meetings this week then I probably have in my life, crossed T’s, dotted I’s, and gone to battle for us, day after day. Their work never really ends.

There are nurses on helicopters, landing in the middle of the interstate to rescue a family after they were hit by a drunk driver. Those guys have seen some unimaginable things. There’s a nurse charting, charting, charting, because the patient was so sick that they haven’t charted a thing in hours. Somewhere there’s a nurse administering chemo to a 4 year old girl, who has lost all her hair and is dressed as a princess. Just typing that makes me feel like someone kicked me in the gut, but it’s true.

There’s a nurse crying, a nurse laughing, and I can almost assure you there’s a nurse telling an inappropriate joke. There are nervous nurses who are studying for the biggest test of their lives, tired nurses who spend every extra minute working on school work, and burnt out nurses who can’t take it one more day, they’ve just seen too much. There are happy nurses who just witnessed true strength as new life entered the world, and proud nurses as they watch their rehab patient finally get in the car for the long awaited ride back home.

All around us are nurses, silent superheroes, who do and see the unimaginable. Some of it is amazing, so incredible that it would bring tears to your eyes, and some of it so horrifying that just thinking about it brings intense pain, even to the most seasoned of nurses. The best part of it all is that we have the ability to change lives, every single day. Our job can be thankless, but it can also be beautiful and consuming. The kind of consuming that changes who you are, makes you cherish the sunshine, and gives you the strength to be a better person, a better nurse, one patient at a time. It’s what we do.

Happy Nurses Week to the most complex and amazing individuals on this earth. I am honored to be part of this with each one of you.


50 thoughts on “Somewhere There’s A Nurse

  1. Thank you!! This is just what I needed today! I try to realize that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself as I relearn the world of icu after being an ER nurse for almost half of my career. That I am not alone in my thoughts and fears! That I also have lived through giveing birth to a blue child who is not approaching high school graduation. And that I have been that nurse the parent hands the blue lifeless child to in the ER and run with that child and have had the proviledge and responsibility to help fix that child. That I am one of many that feel overwhelmed by charting and meds and trying to keep up with my life as a nurse and my life as a wife and mother. And that it’s ok to feel sad and glad and everything in between and that I am a stumbling block against death somedays! I am a nurse! Happy nurses week, every single day of the year!!

    1. thnks for sharing a bit of your life! Iam retirement age and recently lost my job.Best of all things to you! I like the phrase “stumbling block against death” so true about we nurses.

    2. This was beautiful. It fits my daughters life to a tee. She has worked so hard as an ER Tech as she went through RN school and how timely it is that we could cry together while we shared this great piece. Thankyou

    3. This made me cry. I am a NICU nurse and love what I do. It’s hard to capture what we as nurses do but you have done a beautiful job. Happy Nurses week and thanks for your beautiful words

  2. God allowed me to stumble across this tonight and it was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you for what you do every day!

    -The nervous nurse studying for the biggest test of her life!

  3. So very well said. I’ve been lucky to be a nurse for 32 years, and work in many different areas and places. When people sincerely thank me for caring for them I say, “It’s an honor and a priveledge ” and I sincerely mean it.

  4. Working in geriatrics was wonderful, I loved it. Such a wealth of information they would share with you. God blessed me many times and allowed me to share experiences that were an honor. I often wondered why I was chosen to have received these blessed moments with my patients. Maybe because I prayed so hard for them, and my prayers were always answered.

  5. My wife read this to me tonight. She read it and she cried through most of it. I cried with her. (Manly silent tears)

    I watched this article cleanse her soul and I watched her fall back into love with nursing.

    Thank you!

    1. For the first time in a long while, I am so very glad I read the comments. Such a touching post from a nurse’s spouse.

      Thank YOU!!

    2. Very nice comment. It made me fall back in love with being in love. I am a nurse and so much of this article that I just ran across is about me, about us. Nurses…. It means so much when those we love respect how much of it we give away every day. It is you, our loved ones, who help replenish that.

  6. As a seller of scrubs & shoes it has been my absolute honor to serve the nurses of Ohio. They all rock! They are all hilarious at the end of their shift, do not know how to let off the accelerator, and have the listening and observation skills of God. They are all crazy and I LOVE them!

  7. Thank you for this. I have been a nurse for 19 years and I love it. I am no longer on the floor, but I am a nurse educator. Sometimes hearing, “you must not be a good nurse if you became a teacher,” can be sometimes be disheartening, but this post reminds me of what to tell all nurses, from new grads to experienced long timers…We are ALL important, no matter what kind of nursing we do. Thank you again!!

    1. Laura, I’m a retired nurse educator and in my hospitals’ Education Dept only the best nurses were selected for the educator role. After all, role modeling is the best teacher! All the best to you!

  8. Thank so much for putting “our” lives into words. So beautifully written. There are so many babies I carry in my heart and mind that live in heaven now. Being a NICU nurse wasn’t just a job or a profession. It’s who “I” am to my inner core.

  9. Melina,

    This is so awesome!!! I’d love to use some of your blog quoting this at a graduation of nurses this year in a speech but only with your permission. You touch on so many important points and take home messages. Please contact me if this would be possible. Thank you again,

    Jodi –

    1. Jodi, absolutely! It would be my honor for you to quote my blog at graduation. New nurses are so vibrant and full of excitement and passion. I would love for you to share this with them. All I ask is that when you decide, you let me know what you are quoting. I am always fascinated by what resonates with different people and would love to know what you chose to share with them for inspiration. Thanks!

      1. Hi Melina,

        Oh how wonderful! I’m not sure yet if I will be doing a speech. I’m a staff nurse in maternity along with working as a full time nursing instructor at a local university. I’ve been asked to be the senior nursing students class advisor for their pinning ceremony however I don’t know yet if I will actually assume this role. If and when I find out if it is me, I will need to construct a speech. But when I read your blog this morning in Facebook, it really designated with me. I felt pieces of what you wrote would give them meaning before they they graduate and begin their career as nurses if I was to incorporate it my speech somehow. I will alert you if I do a speech and which pieces I use. Thank you again!! I’ll be in touch either way!!

        Jodi F.

  10. great article -I shared it and dedicated to the amazing nurses I have worked with over a long career as a nurse anesthetist. I have done it all- the handholding, the emesis basin holding, the vocal assurance, to using technical skills, both routine and repetitive as well as lifesaving and challenging. I have the job of constant vigilance for a multitude of critical values and decision making, knowing that any of those could be life threatening, minute by minute.. I know that I have comforted, encouraged, and depended on my amazing anesthetist coworkers- also the preop nurses, the pacu and ICU nurses, and that we have great respect for each of those roles. I try to frequently tell them ‘thank you’ and ‘good job’ because it a team effort to safely take our patients through to discharge. Often we are so busy ‘in the trenches’ that it is sometimes only a knowing glance between us, a brief moment of eye contact that says…’we are doing important work here, we are good at what we do, and we love what we do’. Thank you again for sharing your beautifully written article. It has been a pleasure and a calling to walk the walk all these years and I salute you and all the other angels in scrubs, lab coats, or whatever ‘hat’ they may be wearing in our profession, for the amazing difference we make in health care.

  11. Melina, you have chronicled the Nurses and our Profession in every discipline and every category. Nothing left out.
    What you have written touches my heart deeply and has renewed and refreshed my intentions of why I chose this profession. Being in Nursing for over 30 years and about to retire, I can say proudly, “Job well done”.
    I am living my dream and after having been called, The A Team, The Crem de la Crem, The Renaissance Nurse and The Nurse Angel I feel honored and excited as I pass the torch to the next tribe of future nurses.
    Thank you.
    Jean, RN

  12. Fantastically written & spot on -THANK YOU!!! From a 39 year veteran of all but one year Emergengy nursing!!
    Barbara, RN

  13. After an incredibly difficult weekend in the NICU, dealing with many changes and an overwhelming census, this brought me back to reality and reminded me of why I’m a nurse. Thanks! I needed that!

  14. Beautifully written. I have known all of those nurses you mentioned. Unfortunately after 41 years I have become that burnt out nurse. I would do it all over again


  16. This is such a beautiful tribute to ALL nurses. Despite divides between nursing fields, it’s so important to remember that we are all in this together, working toward the same goal. We’re all wounded healers.

  17. Thank you so much for this!! I am graduating from nursing school in just 19 short days and I am the nervous one getting ready to take the NCLEX. I cannot wait to join the ranks of some of the most incredible people I have ever met. I will be so honored to be called a nurse! : )

  18. Well I’m one of the burned out ones then I guess. After 30 years of this, I can hardly take it anymore. I’m sick being dumped on, told I can’t call in ill, belittled by patients and other staff, etc, etc, etc. More and more work is piled on us every day, with less staff, yet we all just do it and nearly kill ourselves each day with overwork. We stab each other in the back, eat our young, and gossip to the extreme. Hospital management hates nurses because we cost so much. The older you are and the more experience you have, the more they hate you and want to get rid of you because you make too much money, so they fire you and hire a new graduate at half the price. Scary. I don’t want to be a patient after what I’ve seen in my 30 years. If I had to do it again, there is no way I choose this so called “profession”. It is not a calling. I’m not religious. I needed a job back in the 1980’s. While it’s all well and good all the other comments, there is the other side of it. A job without breaks, a job where you are always the one to blame, a job where you were taught to to hands on and end up doing 90 percent of your day doing paper work. I can go on and on.

  19. Thank you for this. Not only am I an ICU nurse but am an instructor at a college of nursing, teaching lab and bringing students to the hospital for their first ever Clinicals. You put into words what I attempt to tell the students and attempt to help them see about the amazing vocation that they are working so hard to achieve. Again, thanks.

  20. Thanks for these beautiful thoughts. As a 23 year veteran to nursing, I too was feeling burned out . Constant bickering about policies, scheduling, management styles, etc, I recently decided that private, for profit hospital nursing was no longer for me. I was no longer the person I wanted to be at work, always on edge, sometimes hostile with co workers, inpatients with patients. I worked my entire career in obstetric, post partum and NICU nursing, yet I no longer loved going to work. Even comforting the narcotic addicted baby, loving and snuggling them in the absence of their mothers, was loosing its joy. But that is the beauty of being a nurse. Anyone can make a fresh start, a New beginning. I made the choice to leave the babies and New mom’s that I loved and knew so well and start a new nursing career, working for the VA, taking care of veterans! And I absolutely love it and love them! I split my time in our speciality clinic between Neurology and Urology. A big change from obstetrics, but just as rewarding! These veterans are so appreciative of my care and time. And what wisdom they share with me every day! I recently was working with a young, 27 y/o man who had a traumatic brain injury 3 years ago in Afghanistan when his Hum-Vi drove over a mine and the vehicle exploded. He was not burned but suffers excruciating and debilitating headaches every day. After he described his symptoms and what he had tried to get relief, I thanked him for what he did for me and our country. He asked how long I’d worked for the VA and I told him my story of new beginnings in nursing. I told him I’d considered the service when I was younger but didn’t think I would have made it through basic training. We both laughed, the he paused and said, “Thank you so much for being here, just at the right time, when I needed you most.” I almost cried, right there in front of him! I now love going to work again!

    1. I truly believe….God puts us where we are for a purpose. You were meant to be there for that veteran. God bless you and your new VA career.

  21. I am not a nurse, but I am a physical therapist, have been for 25 years. I related to a whole heck of a lot in this article. But mostly found myself thinking of my son’s guardian angel, her name is Carol and she’s a nurse. We live an hour from the hospital I was to deliver at. Obviously I was scared about not making to the hospital in time to deliver. When we presented to the hospital, they sent us to the L&D unit, and long story short, the OB was ready to send me back home, didn’t think I was in active labor. Carol had a feeling, pushed for me to stay, and when they wanted to send me home, she told me to go walk the hospital halls, not to leave the hospital. I wound up rapidly progressing into labor and my son was born about 90 minutes later, with the cord wrapped squarely around his neck, more than once. They handled everything beautifully and I have a healthy little 9 year old boy. But I still, STILL cry when I think about the fact that without Carol, we’d have been on the side of the road with a very bad problem and no help. I love the nurses I work with, and thank God for my boy’s guardian angel every day.

  22. Beautifully written and brought a tear to my eye. May I use it to sent to all my nurse friends this nurses week?

  23. I am a new outpatient oncology nurse, having recently left inpatient trauma. Part of me was mostly nervous about leaving inpatient because I felt as though I wouldn’t be making as much of a difference being in the outpatient world. I have quickly learned that we each make a difference whether inpatient or outpatient, ICU or non-monitored observation, administrator or educator or floor nurse, and so many others. Not only do we make a difference for patients, but also for each other. In the outpatient world I have seen so much of the “eat our own” mentality and it makes me so sad. We ALL struggled through hrs of studying and testing, we ALL are always learning and gaining experience from each other, and we ALL make a difference in strangers’ lives, positive or negative. I pray almost daily for those who have to be up all night working shifts, and those struggling in their nursing profession, and for all of us to have the knowledge and compassion and patience that we need to adequately and lovingly care for people that we don’t know. Thank you so much for this uplifting blog! I hope that we are all reminded of the many reasons why we were called to this profession and why we need each other every minute of every shift.

  24. Thank you for that beautiful tribute to Nursing. I have been a Hospice nurse for many years. Everyone says that I must be crazy to choose a field of Nursing with so much sorrow. Three months ago as I stood by the bed of my father who had just died, a Hospice Nurse was holding me, drying both my tears and her own. That reminded me why I chose Hospice Care. I don’t save lives, I don’t go “Code Bue” with my hair on fire! I do however drive from patient to patient like a maniac and get up in the middle of the night to comfort a family who doesn’t understand why there loved one chose to die with dignity in their own bed. I simply love my patients until the end. I hold their hand while it grows cold in mine. I prepare families for pain to come and I hold them as I dry thir tears as well as my own…

  25. Not a nurse, but I wanted to be…so badly. Life took me somewhere else. But I want those of you who ARE nurses to know that I respect and value what you do so much. You’re more than a doctor could ever be. You spend the time with the patients. You get to know them and truly administer care for them. I can’t imagine what you see on a daily basis, but what you do is heroic and beautiful. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything you do for every life you touch.

  26. Wow, thank you so much for such an incredible read! Your words perfectly described our profession. I always say no one truly knows how hard & exhausting (yet rewarding) a nurse’s job is, except our fellow RNs…but this just gave people a glimpse into our lives and feelings each shift.

  27. I stumbled upon this post yesterday, the start of Nurses Week. I cannot thank you enough for such an accurate, real and honest description of what we do. Thank you. And a very Happy Nurses Week to you!!!!

  28. Thank you for remembering the Long Term Care nurse in your blog. I can attest to often feeling undervalued and underappreciated by residents, families and members of our own profession who have never worked a day in our shoes. I fiercely love geriatric nursing and encourage other nurses with a love for the elderly to look to geriatrics as a career! Thanks to my fellow nurses for all that you do in your chosen field. Happy Nurses’ Week!

  29. This post and the comments to follow came at a time when I’m struggling with being a PICU RN. Some days, I just don’t think I can stand the look of despair on the faces of parents and loved ones of my patient, not for one more minute. But one of the greatest gifts I have ever received was the love of a mother who lost her 5 week-old baby. She sent me the most beautiful orchids to tell me how wonderful I had been to her baby and to her, who I cared for 2 days of a three week stay. I checked on her frequently while they were with us and as her baby became more ill (I hate RSV), all I could do was hug her, hold her hand and pray with her. I promised to keep the legacy of her daughter alive in the work I do as a nurse. And sometimes, I have to remind myself, when yet another child is on the brink of death, that I made that promise. It’s a promise I fulfill with each interaction with my patients and their families. If you have something to hold onto, some small bit of gratitude or the peace of mind in knowing you did your job the best you could, keep going. Someone’s legacy lives on through you.

  30. My name is.Kathy and I’ve been a nurse now for 41 1/2years. I have loved it, hated it, felt totally crazy for doing it for so long, and yet can’t even begin to fathom what else would so amuse me, sadden yet gladden me, scare me, stimulate me to the core of my being, and prove to me that God does existI! I have had the extraordinary honor of holding the tiny finger of a newborn life and have the also the extraordinary priviledge of holding the dying hand of a person leaving this earth. I have been able to laugh with my patients and or families, to comfort and be comforted, to share the most intimate moments of their lives. People have thanked me for saving their loved ones. They call me angel, try to give me gifts, and treat me like I’m someone special. I AM just doing my job. The job I stayed up all hours studying for, trying to raise my two small sons who trust me to be an example for them, and sweated over the state board exams with my fellow students. I loved the ER, and all the challenges that went with it. The “saves” that went by the book (“so satisfying”) and even the ones that had a less than desirable outcome. I learned to say “what brought in to our ER?” And not ask why or how they inserted foreign objects anywhere in their bodies. The adrenaline rush is incredible!
    I loved ICU/CCU, L&D, newborn nursey, postpartum, and pediatrics. I didn’t care for med-surg nursing, but I still learned a wealth of information. Psych nursing was crazy,! But again, I managed to acquire cosiderable knowledge. In 1993 when the hospital closed, I lost my mind and went to long term care. The worst part was, I fell in love with it in a way I never felt before. I learned a valuable lesson–never say never!
    During this time I became a Legal Nurse Consultant. I got to work for a third party adminstrator and
    got to travel all over the country and even Hawaii. Nursing is so versatile! How wonderful to be able to apply what I learned in so many interesting ways.
    Well, when tort reform passed, I got laid off. Our jobs were gone. So Long Term Nursing, here I came again. I found myself really burned out and was trying to.decide what else I could do. Chauffering was high on the possibility list, after all, I raised 2 sons and chauffered them all over the place. But then I was offered a position with Sunrise Senior living, and well, I am so happy in nursing once again. I feel like I get to go to work every day instead of feeling like I have to go. I learn new things every day. I have built a strong stable teamI I care very much about them. I love mentoring them. Their excitement is palpable and re-energizing for me. Despite its imperfections, I have loved every one of my 41yrs of being a nurse. Thank you to all the nurses who have inspired, encouraged, taught, and been a role model for me over the years. I hope I retire from this job. Thank you again, to all of you!

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