I can spot a nurse from across a crowded room. Sometimes it can be simply in the posture. Other times it is the practical and organized way he or she approaches a situation. Maybe it is his or her shoes. After a while it is just instinct, like the same way a bird recognizes its own species. We learn early in our training skills that carry over into our every day lives that become a part of who we are.
Meticulous Hand Washing
At least I hope every nurse maintains this essential habit. I am that nurse that after my second shift in a row, I leave with red, nearly raw hands. I scrub in like I am about to enter an operating room. You can spot a nurse in any public place whether the airport or the bathroom at Macy’s. After washing her hands meticulously, she will proceed to turn the faucet off and open the bathroom door shielded by several sheets of paper towel.
Wicked Sense of Humor
Through the years, those of us working in the medical field can make light of any situation. We can find humor on humorless days. We laugh at ourselves in otherwise embarrassing situations bearing in mind that at least we live another day to laugh.
Your friend mentions an embarrassing sore on her arm. You have seen worse, way worse. Bearing this in mind, you never want to dismiss her concerns knowing that what may seem like nothing has been known to occasionally progress to something. You ask how long, if anything precipitated her problem? Has she been scratching? Did she change detergent? Has it spread to any other part of her body? Has she had a fever?
You reassure your friend as she apologizes for showing you her fore-mentioned sore that while it warrants being seen, it is nothing to be too worried about. You have seen worse, way worse. However, you still encourage her to make that appointment trusting your instincts that it is always better to error on the side of caution.
In the beginning or our careers, most nurses will try to do everything ourselves. It lies perhaps in the need to prove oneself. After a while, we become seasoned, perhaps a little tired and realize that through delegation we are able to save energy for the more critical tasks we may be confronted with. The nurse is the one at the party who naturally takes over and assigns tasks to individuals.
A nurse is a special breed of individual consisting of all the above combined with a little caffeine, empathy, resilience, and courage. To find a nurse in a crowd is to find hope, reassurance, or perhaps just an empathetic ear.
Lori is an American nurse and yogini living in Gothenburg, Sweden. She contributes regularly to Mighty Nurse, AWHONN, American Nurse Today, and has been featured in The Huffington Post. Follow her adventures through her blog, Neonurse, or on Instagram.