Saturday, March 8, 2008


The following is a speech I wrote while in my student nurse days as a requirement for Leadership and Management. The idea still applies today…

When Florence Nightingale walked the battlefields at night during the Crimean war, searching for the wounded, she had only that all-too-familiar lamp for light. Clara Barton did the same during the American Civil War. These two notable women of history are only among the many remarkable figures in the history of Nursing.
Hard as it may be to believe, but back then, they did it out of the goodness of their hearts and with the purest of intentions. There was no financial compensation to consider, certainly, there were no promises of honor or prestige. Back then, Nursing was a vocation, a calling, a life meant only for those truly committed to serving humanity.
Nursing has come a long way. It has today become a prominent profession, the most in-demand healthcare resource ever. But let us go back to Nightingale and Barton for a while. Let me ask you now, if you were in their shoes, would you do it too? If you were, let’s say, in the middle of a war, would you do the same, knowing full well you would be risking your life, and without compensation to boot? If somebody says yes right now, then I would say, prove it ma’am or sir, and I would personally shower you with medals, trophies, rewards and accolades.
Because let’s face it, let us not be pretentious this moment. Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the student population is here because of only one thing: DOLLARS. Frankly, I myself am guilty of that. Yet, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, something happened along the way. Do you remember that very first time you pulled a bloody, slimy baby out of the womb, or the very first time you saw a body being sliced open, exposing all those inner stuff in all its glory? How about the very first time you fed a “barangay-ful” of hungry children in your community, or the very first time you heard “thank you” from a patient you cared for. How did it feel? You belonged. We belong. We feel proud to belong to that special breed of people who gets to see, feel, smell, hear, and sometimes even taste all of that. We are in a special kind of profession.
Nursing is all about commitment. If you can’t handle it, then you better get out before you waste any more time and money. But the truth is, a lot of the students are hanging on because of the sheer motivating force of money. A lot of us are still here because of the promise of a bright future somewhere out there. Be that as it may, because it is something we cannot do anything about, the saving grace is that we all came in with that thought in mind, but after four years, we come out as transformed persons, with just a little bit of something changed inside that may or may not make the difference between nursing for the pocket and nursing from the heart.
Filipina nurses used to be well-known for being hard-working and the best in the business. Sad to say, lately, there are reports of Filipina nurses deported because of incompetence. This is what happens when quality is sacrificed just to meet quantity. Just to remind you, our closest competitors are the nurses from India – and they are giving us a run for the money indeed.
Alarming? This is something you, as future nurse leaders must do something about. Let us go back to the basics. Go back to why there is Nursing in the first place. Go back to Nursing 100 and recite again: “the domain of nursing is CARING”.
In all our hospital exposure, where the shortage of nurses is greatly felt because of the volume of everyday clients, we see so many nurses who oftentimes are short-tempered, indifferent, and insensitive to the patients’ needs mostly because of their concern to finish their paperwork on time. This defeats the very essence of nursing, when caring becomes impersonal, indifferent, insensitive, and devoid of any warmth. Please, do not be like that.
I know some students who make fun of the nurses’ attitude in the hospital. Don’t laugh. Do something about it! Promise yourselves you will not become like that.
This is where you future nurse leaders come in. You task is laid out for you. Take this as a challenge. Nursing is all about caring. Bring back the heart and soul of nursing. For this, you future leaders should nurture within you the same fire that fueled Nightingale herself. If nurturing a raging fire in you seems too much to ask, then even just a little spark will do for a start, perhaps just enough to light a lamp?
For all the nurses and student nurses present here today, why not try a little something when you go home? Find a mirror, look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself with all conviction: that YOU exemplify quality nursing care. Then go ahead and LIVE IT!
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