By Carol Montiel, MS, RN
I am proud to say I have been a practicing nurse for more than 45 years. My career has been challenging, yet so rewarding, and it has led me in many different directions from the hospital, home care and air ambulance to education and long-term care. My experiences have taught me to be self-sufficient and always have a plan B. Nursing, like life, is never perfect. However, the profession has taught me, as I hope it will teach you, to have a passion for the work you do and seek opportunities that provide you with meaningful experiences.
Nursing is more than just the 4 C’s you study in nursing school. Certainly, compassion, concern, commitment and care are what brought you into the profession. However, once you enter the workforce, you need two more C’s to follow you — challenges and choices.
When we challenge ourselves, we have the ability and confidence to share our knowledge with physicians and other healthcare professionals. We are different but equal in the relationship paradigm.
Nurses demonstrate commitment to patient care by doing all they can with all of the available resources, in the most caring way imaginable. Nurses joining the profession possess that commitment and use critical thinking skills in all they do. We are graduating a new generation of men and women who are capable of making decisions for themselves, and many are seeking to further their education. They are no longer handmaidens of physicians.
With all of the changes, patient care still is primordial; being on a computer 75% of the time is unacceptable. Nurses who find themselves spending more and more time with information technology and less time with patient care will leave the profession at an alarming rate.
Certainly there will be challenges. Every day will bring new experiences and new knowledge. But always remember why you became a nurse. Nursing is not just a job, but rather a career and a vocation that gives you innumerable opportunities to make a difference, to advocate, to counsel, to comfort and to teach.
We all have choices, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Some of you may find excitement in the hustle of the ICU, ED, trauma or air transport. Others will find a special spot in their hearts for caring for the smallest of patients and choose to pursue neonatal or pediatric nursing. I am sure many of you will find a propensity for caring for our aging population and geriatric nursing will be your calling. Some of you will choose to further your education and will pursue academia, research or informatics.
I have had the opportunity to become the director of Golden Glades’ “Baby House,” a home for medically fragile and profoundly disabled children and young adults. Schools of nursing come to our facility during students’ pediatric rotations. Our students learn how to care for special needs patients and receive hands-on experience with those who are on ventilators and have tracheostomies. My patients do not speak or eat by themselves; they do not move and cannot shake your hand to say hello or goodbye. Every night when I leave the facility, I know I have helped my patients feel happier, healthier and safer.
Being a nurse is a privilege. To be entrusted with the care of sick and aging patients is an honor. To be a nurse means being a loving, compassionate, dependable, competent, responsible, comforting and caring person. It also means having a burning passion to make a difference in the lives of others.
Be proud you have chosen nursing as your profession!
Carol Montiel, MS, RN, is director of Golden Glades, Miami.
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