I wrote this for the Virginia Hospital Center essay contest a few years ago and the topic was "Nursing: What's In It For Me?". Enjoy!
Most of America is driven by the question, "What's in it for me?" What an unfortunate internal dialogue to have. In a day and age where material possessions and occupational recognition are the things that define us, I choose to revolt. I choose to politely decline corporate power, elitist behavior and fiscal wealth. I choose people in their most raw condition. I choose people when they have nowhere else to turn. The sonnet by Emma Lazarus, "The New Colossus" best summarizes how I feel about my career choice: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
I chose nursing because I wanted to answer the question, "What's in it for them?" Of course, I expect monetary reimbursement from my facility of employment, but the reason I became a nurse was to become a public servant. I wanted to share happiness, hope and respect with all those I came in contact with. We're all people, one in the same. I have compassion for my fellow man! What better way to express this than through nursing? I will be your sister, your friend, your listener, your teacher, your advocate and sometimes your housekeeper. I will give all I have for you and your well-being for the twelve hours I'm by your side. I may sometimes be overworked, emotionally drained, hungry and tired but, I made a promise when I accepted this career. I promise to tell you the truth in a way you can handle. I promise to translate confusing lingo and guide you to make the best decisions for your own health. I will encourage you to fiercely advocate for yourself when you're no longer under my care. I will think about you when I go home and even after you're discharged. I will cry with you and maybe cry with your family if you move on. These are all the incredible experiences I have had the joy and sorrow of participating in. I will continue to watch people recover, grow, ache, cry, smile, laugh and love. That is what's in it for me.