Every day along the lonely hospital alleys filled with sullen faces, walk the unsung heroes of our time. Their costumes, in varied colours, either blue, green, purple, or sometimes neon pink, walk past us in a mission to save lives. Whether hurriedly, in quick response to an emergency, or casually while filling doctors in on patients’ reports, nurses are undoubtedly the real superheroes of our society. And even with their superpower identity not engraved in their costumes, like the fictional heroes we are familiar with, we can confidently trust in their superpowers.
The nursing field, historically, has been dominated by women. In fact, its inception cannot be mentioned without notably highlighting pioneers like Florence Nightingale, Clara Barton, Mary Eliza Mahoney, Dorothea Dix among others whose monumental work laid a foundational groundwork to shape not just nursing but healthcare into what it is today. Presently, women constitute a majority of the nursing workforce. For National Women’s Day this year, we are celebrating all the women in the nursing field and appreciating their significant contribution to patient care.
More often than not, nurses are an exhausted and sleep-deprived lot; and with the long hours and crazy shifts, it is hard not to see why. For women especially, being homemakers and professionals in this field at the same time can be downright draining. However, beyond exhaustion, nursing is more than just the routine bed rounds. It is more than just organizing and administering drugs while chanting nursing school mantras to ensure you do not miss any important detail. It goes beyond taking vitals, bed baths, and changing adult diapers. The nursing career is one that is as fulfilling as it is exhausting.
A nurse is the only constant in a dynamic environment where no one day is the same as the other and no situation is the same every day. With compassion at the core of nursing, nurses support the needs of patients every single day because nursing is not just a profession but a discipline of care. Sometimes just the enchantment of their kindness is enough to ensure their patients’ recovery.
To be a nurse is to have the privilege of being present at the most vulnerable points in an individual’s life. To be there every day in support of them at the most difficult time of their lives extending utmost care to them with the expectation that there is an improvement in their state every day. To be a reminder that they are not alone. And what an honor to be part of the entire process. Even if the process sometimes ends differently from expectation, it is still a privilege to have been that bridge between life and death for them.
The time that nurses spend with patients is unmatched by that of any other healthcare professional. The hours spent monitoring patients means that they are most familiar with the patient’s progress, even the first to notice and alert of any significant changes and outcomes. Nurses ultimately determine the quality of care patients receive.
Essentially nurses save lives every day in these many ways.
To be a nurse, however, especially a woman in nursing is also to be subjected to the stereotype that they are subordinate to the male higher-ups in the medical profession. Never mind they are the face of patient care and even though they implement the decisions of these other providers, they work independently as well.
Other times it is a power struggle amongst themselves, born out of a created hierarchy in the profession hence breeding hostility and toxicity in an otherwise compassionate profession. Sometimes, it is to be sexualized and subjected to harassment not just by physicians but also by patients.
Sadly, it is sometimes more than physical fatigue but also mental, emotional, and even compassion fatigue which has them questioning if they chose the right path or if they just need to slow down their stride and catch a break.
That notwithstanding, most nurses would not have it any other way because they always show up and put their best foot forward to do what they do best. To save lives.
What a privilege it is to celebrate all the women in this field this National Women’s Day!