August 8, 2020

Everything Is Related to Nursing by Analogy

Having started a blog devoted primarily to nursing, I’m in the process of developing a list of topics I’d like to focus on. During the past year, I’ve compiled a list of post ideas, and it seems not a nursing shift goes by that doesn’t leave me with at least one more topic to add or that doesn’t shed light on one already on my list.

That observation reminds me of a thought that has occurred to me many times within the past several years: Everything is related to nursing. That statement is not one I make lightly. I don’t say it to build up or add value to the profession of nursing. I don’t say it as a blanket statement because I lack the interest, stamina, or language to describe relationships between nursing and many other aspects of life. I say it because I’ve found it to be true in my life, and I believe any reflective nurse should readily understand it to be true.

There was a time in my adult life when I had a strong desire to attend seminary. In fact, I was close to applying to several Master of Divinity programs. At the time, I wasn’t able to justify adding seminary to my already significant commitments, financial and otherwise. As a result, I didn’t apply to any program, but my interest in the content of a high-quality seminary education never left me.

Having attended an accelerated nursing program designed for career changers, I have carried with me into my second career an awareness of the path I have walked as an adult. In reality, I’m not even certain I should call nursing my second career. Following my first Bachelor’s degree and a subsequent Master’s degree, I worked in the fields of life science research and education. I have also been a small business owner. However, for a constellation of reasons I will probably explore in a later post, I left research and education to attend nursing school.

One of the most difficult aspects of my latter years in research and education was the growing knowledge of my desire for wholeness in my endeavors. Early in nursing school, I came to the realization that many of the reasons I attended nursing school were identical to reasons I had previously wanted to attend seminary. However, I didn’t notice the connections between my motives until I had experienced nursing school. It was as if being placed in the crucible of an accelerated nursing program, with all of the other commitments in my life, provoked an internal search for clarification of the primary motives and priorities I had adopted for my life.

Looking back, I can see how I was prepared by my previous experiences for a career in nursing. It’s easy to understand how a person faced with drastic changes and experiencing the internal conflicts involved could develop a sense of uniqueness. The high degree of felt risk, the threat of failure, and the poignancy of the emotions exist for the one in the midst of the change in a way they never could for those viewing that particular life from an outside perspective.

So, in a real sense I am unique. Simply put, there will never be another person with precisely my experiences who faces the same challenges under the same conditions as I have. On the other hand, my life is far from unique, given the general comparison between my life and the lives of others who have entered nursing under similar circumstances.

Uniqueness and continuity, nursing thrives on them both. Every person, every situation, is one of a kind. Lest we be tempted to think otherwise, let’s at least rest assured that every combination of patients, what we nurses often call a team, is truly unlike any other. Our interactions with patients and other healthcare professionals, the exact demands on our time during any given shift are also unique. The change evident as these and countless other things form and dissolve before our eyes or in our hands is profound.

Still, there’s so much that lingers from day to day and year to year in nursing. Organizations adopt particular structures and processes. Some of them last, while others only seem to last because they are common among various organizations. Nursing staff come and go, of course, but the average across units and organizations favors retention. One could even say that certain market forces that exert the greatest influence on nursing linger despite changes in the industry.

Many domains of life hold together on the basis of analogy, by identifying and accentuating features common among domains. I believe there are analogies between nursing and such diverse areas of life as sports and entertainment, science and technology, education, economics, politics, philosophy, and even religion and spirituality. This is why my reasons for entering nursing are similar to my reasons for wanting to attend seminary.

Somehow, the ability to see nursing in everything is akin to the ability to transcend one’s experiences as a nurse to catch a glimpse of what is really important in nursing and in life. For example, caring, now widely thought of as a basic concept in nursing, is an aspect of interpersonal relationships generally and is pervasive in healthy communities. Nursing, particularly in the acute care setting, relies heavily on technologies that are also becoming increasingly intertwined with society in general in the industrialized world. Despite these connections, caring is no less vital to nursing in underdeveloped countries, even if the lack of some technologies yields a very different healthcare system. Caring and technology are not only relevant to nursing. The meanings of caring and technology in nursing inform our understanding of human life as a whole.

Viewed in this light, everything really is related to nursing to those willing to embrace the far-reaching implications of that truth. From this perspective, any topic is fair game for this blog for which a connection to nursing can be expressed. That’s a thought that imparts freedom as well as responsibility: freedom to choose diverse subject matter coupled to the responsibility to articulate meaningful connections between nursing and my chosen topics.

So, since everything is related to nursing, I’m open to topic suggestions. What can we discuss together?

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