Being a Nurse Is Not A Career, It’s A Calling
By Kevin Fox
This week we honor those special people within our community, who made the decision to serve their fellow man though a career in nursing. There are many people with whom we could have interviewed, but this year we spoke to RN DON Tammy McDaniel Ramsey who serves as Director of Nursing at the Clark County Nursing Home to get an idea of why a person would choose nursing as a career and what it takes to be a good nurse.
Tammy began working at the Clark County Nursing Home in 1995 as a secretary. She stated that was, "As close as I had ever been to the health care field. After a couple years, I made the decision to get into nursing. After getting off work one day, I headed over to Southeastern Community College and signed up in their nursing program. I would graduate with an associate degree in nursing the same year my son graduated from high school. I would go to work at Great River Medical Center in Burlington until I grew tired of the commute and in 2001 I came back to the Clark County Nursing Home. Later I became Clark County Public Administrator and during that time worked at the Clark County Health Department. Last summer I was offered the position as Director of Nursing and I accepted. The position is very challenging on one hand and on the other hand is very rewarding. I really do enjoy the challenge and it was very easy to come back to the Nursing Home. We have a very good facility here and we get a lot of positive comments from families both locally and away from here about the home.
Besides being a nurse herself, as Director of Nursing Tammy works with nurses and interviews nurses who are seeking employment. She explained, "It takes a great deal of dedication just to become a nurse and it takes even more patience, compassion and caring to be a good nurse. You have to have those qualities, especially in long term care facilities such as a nursing home. When I do interviews I ask candidates about why they may have gotten into nursing and about their patience. If they feel that long-term care may not be for them it's better to know that now. To be a good nurse you have to care more about people and worry less about a paycheck.
However being caring and compassionate also means that you hurt when other people hurt and we are all human. And whether it's in a doctor's office or in a hospital or any health care facility, nurses are there for all the parties involved. We have all held family members and cried and hurt right along side of them. That's part of what makes the career a challenge, because there are times when a nurse may have had a bad day because of a patient who was suffering in some way. And it's very hard not to take that home with you and there is just no way to leave that concern behind you when you walk out the door. So while the nursing career can be demanding on nurses, it also takes some special understanding to those married to nurses or if their parent is a nurse. I like to get out and walk and exercise to clear my mind and kind of get away from it and that seems to help. But what also helps is the knowledge that you did all you could for that person as a health care provider. But it is tough and being a nurse can be emotionally and mentally exhausting and that's why I feel that nursing is a calling. There is no way that you could do the things that are necessary to become a nurse unless you felt that you were making a difference in the lives of those you touch. You can tell that nurses are doing what they feel called and compelled to do when you see them staying in the nursing field for so long. But we all have days when we have doubts about making a difference and then you wake up the next morning and you're ready to get back at it.
But as far as rewarding days, it's always nice to hear a "Thank you " from a patient or their family and we hear that quite a bit, but it still means a great deal. You can be having a bad day and a smile and thanks can change that around. Nursing is something I would encourage someone to pursue as a career, however not everyone is cut out to be a nurse and you have to be honest with yourself when you consider it as a career. But it is a career that there is a great demand for and that demand for nurses is everywhere.