“With great power, comes great responsibility”. As cliché as that phrase may seem, I feel it lends itself quite well to the nursing field. In fact, if I were going to pick one nursing motto to live my career by, it would probably be this phrase. Sure, “Do no harm” is nice, but it’s not nearly as thorough, plus the doctors already have that mantra.
In Nursing, there is Always Something to Learn
Early in my nursing career, I grew to understand just how much power nurses hold in their hands. No matter how many years you spend at the bedside, there is still so much more to learn. There are days when I go to work and feel like an imposter. Even now that I no longer work in a clinical setting, I think back to all those times that I was going in and out of patients’ rooms, giving medications, changing dressings, and seeing people at their most vulnerable. It often feels like a dream, looking back; but I know it’s was very real and what the majority of nurses encounter every day.
People at Their Most Vulnerable
Every day nurses see people when they are most at risk. We see people when they are most in need of help, compassion, and care. Every day we make choices about the way in which we deliver their care. Even though we may try our best to involve them as much as possible in their plan of care, it is up to me to make many decisions on their behalf.
I am hopeful that autonomy in nursing forces honesty and integrity. However, that may not always be the case. We all know a coworker that at some point has taken a short cut that’s not in the best interest of the patient. It’s amazing that we have careers that allow us to make decisions and shape how we work, but that also means that some will abuse that honor and responsibility.
Nursing’s Great Responsibility
It also often makes me aware of the great responsibility we take when we walk into those hospital doors, pick up those kardexes, and take on our patients. We have power in our care. We deliver medications, procedures, and education. We often give narcotics to a patient that are so powerful they would cause most others to go into respiratory failure. We hold life and death balanced in our hands, and nobody talks about it.
As nurses, it is routine for us to care for those who will never respond to use. We medicate. bathe, and reposition patients whose heart only beats because of the medication we pump into them, lungs only breathe because a machine is doing it for them, and skin’s only intact because of the repositioning and hygiene care we provide them. Every day, even if we are not in the ER we save lives. Every day we prolong life. Every day we have the opportunity to promote positive change and quality in our patient’s lives. Every day, through simple actions and well-thought words, we have the ability to change the world.
A Phrase for Nerds and Nerds
Adopting the nursing motto of “With great power comes great responsibility” seems fitting for a self-proclaimed nerd.
When Uncle ben said these words to Peter Parker, he spoke to my heart. Stan Lee most likely had no idea that when using this phrase he would inspire this nurse. It goes without saying that although Stan Lee may have made it a phrase well known in American pop culture through the widely successful film adaptation of Spiderman, he is not the first to make this point. “In the Gospel According to Luke, Luke records Jesus as saying, ‘Everyone to whom much was given, of him, much will be required; and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more’ (Luke 12:48)” (Uncle Ben).
Will you be able to meet that challenge?
Nurses: Challenge Yourself
Whether you’re in nursing school, a new graduate, or a seasoned professional, I urge you to meet this challenge. When you are annoyed with the call light or the pile of charting you face, remember that you are doing noble work. Remember that you are doing something for others that they cannot do themselves. Remember you are making a difference, one patient, one person, at a time.
Fuel for Your Great Responsibility
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