Are you the ordinary nurse or exceptional nurse? You might be wondering what the difference might be..
“You are different nurse!” These words from two doctors still linger in my mind to date. It was after stressful academic journey that was taking toll on everyone. Even though these words were not new to my ears, I asked them to defend their words. As they took turns to defend their words, I kept asking who an ordinary nurse is and who is a different nurse. My mind quickly recalled during my early years of nursing when I was disgusted by utterances when a nurse alleged that a nurse is a nurse regardless of qualification. I was challenged to change the narrative, but I could not immediately figure out how I could navigate landscape stereotyped by its own members. As time went by, I met and interacted with both angelic nurses and their opposite counterparts. This was beginning of my transformation journey.
The angelic nurses held my hand, showed me the right way, and encouraged me for a better nursing future. Their mantra always remained you are the future who will provide quality care and revolutionize the profession. They shared need to invest early and work towards both personal and career goals. The devil nurses on the other hand always lamented of nursing and held on to old dogma of nursing as a calling and doing tasks as a routine, literally discouraged, and mocked new nurses. As my friend shared with me,” They baptize nursing to be frustrating and a scam profession!” These are the dream killers and they sabotage professional destiny. If they are at leadership position, they are the ones who schedule you for duty on the days you request to have day offs. They sent their buddies, sweethearts, and sycophants to trainings repetitively. They collude with other cadres to frustrate fellow nurses. They make others cry forcing them to think beyond their wild imaginations. They are the greatest enemies of the profession. I advise nurses to choose how to react to actions of these calibre nurses. I chose to turn the lemons they gave me into lemonade. So, what exactly did I do differently?
My transformation journey began when I had internal drive to deliberately refuse the tag “ordinary nurse”. Typically, not serving as anyone subordinate/secretary, refusing the title “sister” as I am not a nun, knowing my rights and standing by them, defining my scope as a nursing officer, among others. I began to volunteer in community programs where I was exposed to not only other cultures but also health programs beyond hospital walls. This was great eye-opener, I attended conferences and workshops where youths younger than me were trailblazers in various health fields. My thinking gradually changed as I interacted. Then came this program where I was working with four youths of different nationalities of designing program to actual client. My mind overstretched, I was out of my comfort zone. Though our project was not the best, the project propelled me to another dimension. Sooner, I was back to the hospital environment. By then I had subscribed to many opportunity sites and had a fair network. Then came this opportunity concerned with communicating policymakers regarding reproductive health which brought about youths in Nyanza and Western regions. I was not from any of the two regions but as fate had it, I was selected to represent my county albeit its location. In this program, I did stellar job and had to represent youths in high-level stakeholder meeting. This was golden opportunity to interact with policy makers from diverse backgrounds working at different levels. Sadly, small percentage were nurses but what was intriguing was that people who had no health background were not only thriving but also making health policies. This became my defining moment. I had to shape my own path by becoming a rebel always trying to be the change I desired. This landed me to be in a class with doctors, pharmacists, veterinary doctors, psychologists, political scientists, real estate developers, designers and all other professionals in same class studying the same subject. Unfortunately, the nurses were always the minority group. However, I never allowed to be put down as a nurse, we challenge and learn from each other. What they can do, I can do better as a nursing officer!
Are you the ordinary nurse or exceptional nurse? You might be wondering what the difference might be. My doctor friends responded, “You think and act differently, your value proposition is on another level and well-versed with many aspects of life, …. We respect nurses, if you mess with them, your life in hospital will be full of frustrations.” Everyone can be different in unique way. Yes, that should be the case. Know your value proposition, interact with other cadres, study on other industry subjects, build quality network as this is your net value and above all get out of comfort zone. Complacency is recipe of career death. Stop asking and lamenting on what unions, Nursing Council of Kenya, or employer has done? What have you done yourself to change the nursing? Indeed, every stakeholder has a role to play but the moment you experience this mind shift as a person, you start questioning why things are the way they are and not any other way. This is the greatest battle that must be won before any other; it births self-liberation that culminates into professional revolution and thus making the profession noble. You will be able to set higher goals; believe me, you will soar like eagles. If you need the difference, get out of the cocoon and start being the difference from your sphere of influence!