For a moment of respite from the beeps and buzzes, I walked back to the stillness of my office, wondering how I’d ever questioned the reason for the toughness and practicality of the nurses when I first came here. How could they be otherwise and survive?
But it wasn’t even 15 minutes later that a nurse about my age stood in my doorway and proudly introduced her college-age son. “Kids today have great opportunities,” she said. “He wants to change the world.” Then she looked away and said, “Me, I just do a job.”
I looked at her in disbelief. “You really feel you aren’t changing the world too, the world of these patients? People who come here with a chronic disease—who could view it as a life sentence? Don’t you realize that you help them know they can actually live with it, resume their lives, move ahead?”
She listened, but seemed unconvinced. Her eyes shining, she replied, “It’s me who learns from them, who’s come to realize that if I’m ever in a situation like theirs, I can go on.”
That’s an excerpt from “Goodbye Cherry Ames,” the Reflections essay in the November issue of AJN. It’s by a social worker who planned to become a nurse. Click through (the PDF version is best), read the short essay, and (if you’re feeling inspired) let us know in the comments below what you would have told that discouraged nurse.—JM, senior editor/blog editor