Early historical records of nursing as we know it describes nurses serving in a volunteer capacity through the early church. This legacy of service is timeless considering the current educational model of “Service Learning.” Service learning is a tool being encouraged in learning institutions, and is based on the premise that classroom learning is enhanced through “doing for others.” These community activities are related to current classroom subjects and are designed to give students the opportunity to apply concepts while meeting the needs of the community. The quintessential example of what it really means to do for others in a self-sacrificing way is observed through nursing actions and expressions of caring.
What kinds of sacrifices are made by nurses today?
Is getting paid for your work the same as service learning? Not exactly, but it embodies the same concepts. In my classroom I often say to students, “Our patients are not expected to be at their best, but we are.”
The people we care for are often hurting physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The patient’s pain is felt by family and friends who also have their own pain and concerns. The nurse’s scope of care often includes spending significant time and energy teaching and supporting the families and loved ones of our patients: “doing for others.” Coping skills of the patients and families are challenged by illness and that is where the nurse is called to action, putting aside fatigue and personal concerns, drawing on resources to meet patient and family needs.
Professional Nursing Today
Do nurses today still care and sacrifice in the same way or is nursing considered more of an occupation? I say without hesitation the prominent motivator is care. Nursing today is a paid profession and sometimes that is another motivation to enter the field. Many of our students enter the nursing program as a second or third career because it is perceived as providing secure income. There are nursing shortages however they are regional. In our geographical area, nursing graduates must distinguish themselves and creatively search for jobs as compared to under-served areas where the job market is more open. In my observations, despite the possible motivation to secure a reliable income, students who are most successful in school and later in their work are those who are truly motivated by care and concern for others health and well-being. Think about examples of nursing care you have experienced and see if you agree.