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I want to be one of them

Demo, Douglas A. RN

doi: 10.1097/01.NURSE.0000434365.99065.4f

Wanting to make a difference

Douglas A. Demo, an RN at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, N.J., was a nursing student when he wrote this article.

The author has disclosed that he has no financial relationships related to this article.

WHEN A FRIEND asked me why I'd decided to leave the field of education after 17 years to become a nurse, I gave him a quick answer—to make a difference. He pretty much scoffed at my reply, calling it cliché, but at the time I wasn't in the mood for a long discussion about my career change. Even though both my parents are nurses, I didn't take this new direction simply to follow in their footsteps. I have, however, come to admire them as role models and appreciate the work they do as well as the work of so many other nurses I've encountered in my life. Each one of them has played a role in my recent life-changing decision.

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Inspiration abounds

I want to be like the nurses in Delaware who taught a man how to care for his stump after a below-the-knee amputation. That man was my father.

I want to be like the nurses in a Virginia hospital who made the phone call to tell a family to come quickly because their patient didn't have much time left. The patient was my grandfather.

I want to be like the nurses in a Connecticut long-term-care facility who showed respect and tenderness to an elderly woman until it was her time to go. She was my grandmother.

I want to be like the nurses in New York who held the hand of a patient with AIDS as he lay dying. He was my friend.

I want to be like the nurses in Florida who teach patients about adverse reactions to chemotherapy and tell them they're still handsome when they lose all their hair. They were my stepfather and stepbrother.

I want to be like the nurses in Ohio who comforted a man and his wife as they could do nothing but wait and watch their disfigured newborn die within a month of birth. That infant was my nephew.

I want to be like the nurses in New Jersey who knew to step away, say nothing, and let a woman cry in the arms of her husband after her third miscarriage. She's my neighbor.

I want to be like the nurses in Washington, D.C. who made a young man laugh after he cursed at them for inserting a nasogastric tube. That young man was me.

Unfortunately, I can't recall the names of those nurses, but they possessed the knowledge, skill, and compassion to support my family and friends during some of life's most trying times.

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I'll make a difference

Being a nurse is more than documenting patient care plans, administering medications, or changing dressings. It's about looking in the mirror at the end of the day, asking, “What did you do today?” and proudly responding, “Today, I made a difference in someone's life.” Nurses help patients and their families move one step closer to health, wellness, and healing or a good death because of their collaborative efforts and key role as part of a healthcare team. I want to be one of them.

© 2013 by Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.