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Few jobs will run a person as ragged as a nurse. Nursing involves being on your feet all day, every day. Rushing around from patient to patient taking care of their daily needs. Depending on the patient this can be incredibly invasive for both patient and nurse. It can range from dispensing medications to bathing. Nurses are not only essential to good healthcare, but without them, any kind of long-term medical aid would crumble.


Doctors have their hands full with seeing patients, surgeons have their hands full with surgery; nurses are the essential before-during-and-after care. They are the ones that we call when we wake up in the hospital in the middle of the night, they’re the ones looking after our newborn children, and they’re the ones taking care of the intimate hygiene of our disabled and elderly.


How do they do it?

The Needs of Nursing

Just like any vocation that requires higher learning, being a nurse requires employees to have the necessary qualifications. Fortunately, there is no shortage of courses available, and it’s even possible to undertake an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing online. This means that those who can’t handle studying physically or at their campus of choice can still earn their requisite degree.


However, the job of a nurse requires more than just medical know-how, and unfortunately, it’s a quality that too many doctors and surgeons (and yes, even nurses) lack - empathy.


Empathy describes the ability to understand and fully grasp another person’s emotional condition at a particular time. Have you ever had a friend or family member that, when you talk to them they just always know what to say, or what not to say? They know exactly how to hug you or stroke your hair. They know when to touch and when to keep distant, when to check in, and when to back off. A person with empathy is a unique gift to the world, as their innate emotional intelligence renders them uniquely positioned to heal or offer support to those around them.


A kind, empathic nature is essential to being a nurse. All day long you’re dealing with people who are sick, in pain, have chronic conditions, or maybe aren’t in full control or awareness of their faculties. Dealing with these people is bad enough, let alone when they’re in a hospital bed, away from friends and family, often bored, always eating hospital food (which is another challenge altogether.)


The point is that nurses are special because among the utter chaos of their workplace, and the stress and pain inherent to the job, nurses muddle through, and the truly special nurses are capable of more - spreading kindness.

Kindness, Empathy, Science

The evolutionary precedent for kindness stipulates that to be kind is to be aware of the needs of others and that these traits are essential to our survival as a species. A hospital is nothing if not a communal space, and it's one of the worst communal spaces. It is hundreds of sick, wounded, and dying being cared for by hundreds of people with hundreds of things to do. It’s stressful, to say the least.


A hospital is an incredibly harsh social setting, and it's easy to see humanity’s worst within its halls. However, the very idea of a hospital is one rooted in kindness. A space for the sick and infirmed to be safe and receive care while they recover. Where the dying can receive comfort and time to get their affairs in order before they leave. A place where the mortally wounded can have a second chance.


Where doctors and surgeons diagnose and apply the treatment that makes these miracles happen, nurses are the ones who do everything in between. They are the heart and soul of the medical profession, and without them, so many of us would not have the second chance we’ve gotten. 


The real tragedy is that right now there is a shortage of nurses in the US, and unless things change soon, we may very soon be unable to find the kind of essential care nurses give. If you possess a naturally kind and empathetic nature, enjoy a helter-skelter environment, and thrive on actively helping others, then our country may need you now more than ever.