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Celebrating nurses

doi: 10.1097/01.NME.0000423372.68269.1b
Department: Celebrating Nurses

What it means to be a nurse…in your own words

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RN reflections of 40 years



By Julie R. Gunn, RN, CLNC

I wanted to be a bedside nurse since the age of 4

It took many years to realize nursing was much more

Not just bedpans, enemas, and cardiac compressions

There is so much more to the nursing profession

We provide caring words when a patient is sad

Knowing full well that patient could be my dad

As I approach my retirement years

I do so with a sense of fear

Bedside nurses are decreasing in number

Will there be a nurse to hold my hand

When it is time for me to slip into my eternal slumber?

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To carry the lamp

By Joyce Estes, MSN, RN

Today, you begin your journey.

To carry the lamp that is the symbol of your calling.

A noble, sincere calling, that brings a touch, a smile, or a kind word to those who are in need of the light of the lamp.

We give the light of our lamp to those in darkness to overcome their hopelessness and fears.

We give the warmth of our lamp to those who seek comfort and trust.

We do not see race, gender, or age…

We simply see need and we give warmth and light. Your journey is beginning, your lamp burns bright and warm.

You will meet others who have traveled long and far, they no longer choose to carry the lamp.

Take care they do not extinguish the flame of your lamp or the warmth of your heart.

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Nursing shoes

By Joyce Estes, MSN, RN

Early one morning, I was hardly awake,

I thought of the day and the plans I would make.

I went to the closet to pick out my shoes,

And thought about the pair I would choose.

At the back corner of the closet, pushed to the wall

Were shoes that I remember as being the best of all.

I looked at the shoes lying on the floor, and said to myself,

“What am I keeping those nursing shoes for?”

The shoes when bought new were a clean and bright white,

But the years and the wear had dampened their light.

As they lie on the floor, memories came into my thoughts

Of those shoes when worn and the feelings they brought.

The feeling of joy, of life at first sight,

The tears for patients who lost their brave fight.

The sorrow of mothers who held their child near,

You held in your arms and shared in her tears.

Those teens brought in because a poor choice was made

Forced us to work harder so their life would not fade.

Those nursing shoes laid there as if they would say,

“What do you mean, throw us away?”

We're here to remind you of the roles that you play,

One of the reasons you get up every day.

One day the new nurses whom you have taught and have learned

The skills and caring and whose lives they will turn.

They will collect their own shoes that they will wear with great pride,

Saving lives, giving hope to those as they stride

Through the years in their own nursing shoes and memories past

Forging a passion for caring and a profession to last.

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When I die

By Dianne Settani, BSN, RN

When I die, don't let me die alone.

Please hold my hand so I know you are still there.

Let my last earthly vision be of someone I love.

Please, let that person also love me.

When I die, I don't want to be afraid.

Who are you? Where am I?

What is happening?

Oh my God!

Don't let me be in pain, or struggling for breath.

Let my dying be peaceful.

Let my physical life slip away, if it must.

But I don't want to die alone.

…another human being

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Now I know

By Kristin L. Coombs, BSN, RN

Terror, confusion and the unknownNow I see what you see

Chemo traveling through every veinNow I feel what you feel

A surgeon's blade of precision and skillNow I know what you know

Rays unseen where a breast used to beNow I hope what you hope

Priceless light of life and loveNow I pray what you pray

As a nurse, my battle with cancer has made me experience exactly what my patients experience. As a healer, I have become the patient as well.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.