No ”former” nurses

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I was recently speaking with a meeting planner (someone who orchestrates conferences and conventions for a client) and she said she wanted me to speak to a group of hospital managers, all ‘former’ nurses. “Former nurses?” I echoed. “Yes,” she said. “They no longer do bedside nursing.” I swallowed hard and gave her my spiel about how nurses play many different roles in healthcare and that the title ‘nurse’ belongs to both the managers and the front line staff. “Oh, OK” she said. Later in the conversation she stated, “You’re perfect for this group because you’re a former nurse.” I felt like I was getting nowhere. I quickly interjected that I, too, am still very much a nurse in my current role – still a healer, a teacher, and nurturer. I underscored that nurses do many different things in many different ways. Again, she said, “Oh, OK.”

After 30 years in nursing, I’m used to defending the profession, clarifying our role, explaining what nurses really do, etc. At times it is frustrating and tiresome but, hopefully some of it will sink in somewhere along the way. Perhaps if nurses continue to work to get more visible and vocal in the community, in the media, in government, and in business, we can work collectively to underscore the broad scope of nursing, the true nature of what we do, and how we are changing the world in small and large ways everyday – each in our own way.

On a related topic, read Celebrate the Diversity of Nursing

1 thought on “No ”former” nurses”

  1. Thank you for your article “No Former Nurses” I have not worked in a traditional health care setting for over 10 years and sometimes people say to me “you were a nurse, weren’t you?” I always let them know that “I am still a registered nurse.” Even though I have pursued more holistic/complementary health endeavors over the last 20 years, there isn’t a day that goes by that my nursing education isn’t used in educating &/or caring for friends, family, neighbors, (and sometimes pets!) in their quest for better health.
    Being a nurse changes the way you look at health, people, the world.
    Once you have made that change, you don’t lose it or change back. You may grow, but at your core, I think you are still a nurse. I think “once a nurse, always a nurse” is true.

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