One thing that stood out today happened a few minutes before an angiogram procedure. As I entered the lab, the physician performing the procedure was discussing hair loss with a nurse. The nurse turned to me and explained that she has been battling breast cancer. About this time, the doctor realized she did not know who I was. I introduced myself, explaining that I am a student from Olivet Nazarene University. When she specifically asked what I was studying (I thought I had already told her), I readily answered, “nursing!” She immediately replied, “You'll change your mind. I used to be a nurse. I hope you're planning on doing something else,” and walked into the procedure room.
I was more surprised than anything. I looked at the nurse sitting at the desk, refusing to be insulted by the comment, and said, “I take it she doesn't relish a career in nursing, then?” I followed by stating, “Well, I suppose not everyone is called to be a nurse.”
I could have been insulted by the doctor's comment. A year ago, I probably would have been offended, or maybe I should be now. Whatever the case, I was not about to make a scene. In that moment, I chose to be the professional. Whether technician or aide work is my cup of tea or not, it is not my place to cut down that line of work. Without technicians and aides, nurses could not do their jobs as efficiently. And whether nursing is a physician's cup of tea or not, it is not his or her place to cut down my line of work. Without nurses, physicians could not do their jobs.
The truth is, all I've ever wanted to do was become a nurse. I dreamed of little else. I will not “change my mind,” and I do not “plan to do something else.” This is what I am called to do for my life's ministry, my part in the Great Commission given us by Christ (Mt 28:18–20).
The Apostle Paul told the church at Corinth, “There is one body, and many parts.” Perhaps the 1 Corinthians 12 passage could be restated for healthcare workers in this way:
If a nursing assistant should say, ‘Because I am not an RN, I am not really a healthcare worker’, he would not for that reason cease to be a healthcare worker. And if an LPN should say, ‘Because I am not a physician, I am not really a healthcare worker’, he would not for that reason cease to be a healthcare worker. If all healthcare workers were physicians, where would the nursing judgment be? If all the healthcare workers were LPNs, who would prepare the dietary plans? But in fact, God has arranged the workers in the healthcare system, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one kind of healthcare worker, where would the healthcare system be? As it is, there are many jobs, but one healthcare system. The LPN cannot say to the RN, ‘I don't need you’! And the chief executive officer (CEO) cannot say to the housekeeper, ‘I don't need you’! On the contrary, those workers that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the jobs we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the jobs that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, whereas the presentable jobs need no special treatment. But God has combined the healthcare workers and given greater honor to the jobs that lacked it, so there should be no division in the healthcare system, but that each healthcare worker should have equal concern for each of the others. If one department suffers, every department suffers with it. If one department is honored, every department rejoices with it.” (NIV, adapted from 1 Cor 12:12–26, emphasis mine)
The physician today was not the first person who said I should choose something other than nursing. I had a high school English teacher pull me aside and encourage me to pursue medicine. My teacher asked, “Why do you want to be just a nurse when you could make so much more money being a doctor and actually get credit for all the work you do?” It really is not a matter of just being anything, as it also is not a matter of money or special notice. Today, I received a fresh reminder of not only the misconceptions and ignorance people often assume, but also of why I have chosen this profession. And if people still see me as just a nurse, I will remind myself that Jesus Christ sees me just as I am.