Saturday, March 10, 2012

#18 Nurse 'Y'

Two weeks ago, I posted about Patient 'X', an anonymous amalgamation of admirable people who, throughout my nursing years, had taught me so very much.

Today, I want to recognize Nurse 'Y'. There are significantly fewer of those to amalgamate, mainly because, while I had worked with thousands of patients over the years, I worked with far fewer nurses. There are nurses who live up to the old saying that "nurses eat their young", but thankfully there are many others who stand out as having been born to this profession and vocation. Those are the ones I wish to acknowledge.

My list starts with Nurse 'Y' who, in 1985 when Michael Jackson & Co. were singing "We Are The World", dropped everything and went around the world with the International Red Cross to Ethiopia to help during the famine. She was there for months, working under indescribable conditions, even being held at gunpoint while driving in a Jeep with colleagues to get supplies for their camp. When she came home on furlough, the girls at work held a barbecue for her, and I saw her face as she watched all the meat being cooked on the barbecue. She said it was such an odd thing for her to comprehend, after seeing nothing but starving people for so many months. She and her husband went back later, he as an engineer helping to establish water supplies in villages. 
Then, there was Nurse 'Y' who I worked with offshore for many years. He was easily the most brilliant nurse I've known, but a terrible speller and organizer, so that's why we made a great team! He taught me loads about advanced cardiac life support, and I taught him loads about occupational health and how to turn on a computer! He was one of the few offshore nurses who knew and understood  that presenting a united front with your 'back-to-back' partner was vital to making your own life easier, in spite of the fact that you actually never worked with your back-to-back. They were always home when you were working, and vice versa. Those were some of my most rewarding offshore years and I have him to thank for that.

I will always remember Nurse 'Y' who was my supervisor when I lived in Fort McMurray. She was not only a shrewd and brilliant leader, she knew how to wheel and deal in the heavily political environment of the oil sands hierarchy in ways that made my naive head spin. She was 100% behind her nursing staff and would fight the fights, even when that was not necessarily popular or deserved. She had a heart of gold and a spine of steel, and it was a pleasure - and an education - working for her during those years.

Another comes to mind: Nurse 'Y', a nurse educator with the Center for Nursing Studies. During my offshore career, I had the pleasure of attending many courses and advanced skills assessment sessions that were led by this nurse. She had the ability to make the most detailed and complex processes seem logical, straightforward and learnable. She is one of the few people I've ever met who, I swear, has not forgotten a single thing she has ever learned! She is with the ARNNL now, and as much a contribution as she is making there, I personally feel that it is a sad loss to nursing education that she is no longer with the CNS.

Finally, there are all the Nurse 'Ys' I have worked with who exhibit a combination of those qualities I have come to admire in nurses - trustworthiness, humor, caring, tolerance, patience, team-spiritedness, helpfulness, ethical behavior, graciousness - and are not driven by a need to 'eat their young' in order to experience satisfaction in their careers. Sadly, not every nurse I've worked with has been a Nurse 'Y', but many have. To all of you - those who've been around forever to those who graduated just last year - thank you for being nurses I have, and still do, look up to and learn from and with whom I enjoy working. You have my sincere admiration, respect, affection and gratitude. 



  1. Replies
    1. You are too kind, and I am too undeserving.

  2. margaret,
    you have a wonderful gift and you should share it with alot more nurses.You should publish this article in Access and in Cananian Nurse.

    1. Thank you, Sharon! You are a duckie, and a definite Nurse Y (just like Kim!) I think that Access & Canadian Nurse would think I'm just a sentimental old fool, not a worthy writer, I'm 'fraid! But, I appreciate your kind words, more than you know. xoxoxo


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