Industry Perspective A volunteer aboard the world’s largest civilian hospital ship shares a heartfelt tribute to the ways her colleagues defy the job description.
It takes only a short conversation with any nurse to realize that — besides assessing, monitoring, coordinating, washing, inserting, feeding and every other verb that falls under our scope of practice — nurses take on myriad additional roles. In those moments of crisis that bring patients to a hospital, nurses become coaches, counselors, janitors, baby sitters, pastors, doctors, waitresses, secretaries and surrogate family members. We are the ones always present during the most vulnerable times.
Having served as a hospital nurse, and currently volunteering as a nurse on the Africa Mercy, a hospital ship docked in West Africa, I’ve realized that the things we do to bring more than just physical healing are just as important as our traditional nursing skills. So, from my current post, I say cheers to my colleagues for these unconventional skills.
1. Cheers to the entertainers
You make fools of yourselves to bring joy. You dance, sing, play — and repeat — if there’s even the smallest chance of a smile.
2. Cheers to the educators
You determine your patients’ needs, sometimes through a translator or family member. Then you do your best to make sure they’re equipped to go home and care for themselves.
3. Cheers to the volunteers
You leave the comforts of home, and you believe this work is important in every corner of our Earth. You visit patients on your days off. You let them know they are loved.
4. Cheers to the artists
Dressings become canvases, nasal bolsters are heart or star-shaped. You make scary things into beautiful things.
5. Cheers to the see-ers
You meet your patients’ eyes when so many in their lives have stopped. You see past physical appearance and hard exteriors.
6. Cheers to the comforters
You feel your patients’ pain and stay with them. You hold their hands, walk with them, cry with them, rejoice with them.
Cheers to the nurses, the most adaptable of creatures, the true jacks-of-all-trades.