Marie Biancuzzo shares her thoughts and experiences on why she loves being a nurse.

Several of my nurse friends are now retired, and a few have given up their nursing license. But I cannot understand that. I won’t give up my nursing license until I take my last breath. Why so? Because being a nurse is part of my identity, and I love it. Over the years, I’ve probably thought of a hundred reasons for why I love being a nurse. But today, let me focus on why I love being a nurse this year.

I love the challenge

Early on, I realized that I would never know everything I needed to know in order to be a good nurse. And the same is true now. During most of my time being a nurse, I’ve had one foot in the clinical camp and one foot in the academic camp. I’ve never learned it all. I am at peace with the fact that I never will, and I love being a life-long learner.

When I teach my comprehensive course, I find myself wanting to teach attendees everything they’ll ever need to know for the next 50 years. It’s not possible. So, I force myself to focus on teaching basic concepts and basic principles to manage basic problems. (If they want to know about using music, breastfeeding during air travel, breastfed babies who have constipation, craniosacral therapy for babies, waterbirth,  Dancing for Birth™, or any number of hugely interesting topics that do NOT reflect “basic” information — well, they need to keep reading this blog or listening to my podcast!)

I still have lifelong friends from nursing school

Hospital schools of nursing were moving toward extinction when I was in high school. Nevertheless, I felt that the total-immersion experience in a hospital-based education would be a good fit for my life. However, it was really rugged. On August 19 (see? I even remember the day we started!) there were 49 students in my freshman class. But by Christmas, we had only 36. The rest of us became pretty tight with each other.

Only a few days ago, I “talked” to one of my friends from nursing school. (Nowadays, these “talks” are often by text or Skype, but you get my drift.) There’s something about those formative years where we had each other’s back.

I love the instant recognition and respect

If I go to a social event, someone always asks what I do. I just say, “I’m a nurse.” (I never elaborate.)

Instantly, they exude praise for all nurses everywhere. (I agree, I’ve had help from some amazing colleagues.) Ah … these strangers assure me that all nurses have some superpower. I lap it up! I would not describe myself as having a hero complex. But yeah, I admit, I did some pretty amazing clinical stuff in my day.

I love marching to the tune of a different drummer

After about 3 weeks in nursing school, I began to hate those 7 words, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Hence, I knew I would be a “different” nurse.

Indeed, I was! And I am! 

Long before we talked about “evidence-based practice” I was living in the library on my days off from work. By the early 1980s, I was gung ho to facilitate skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery, because I had seen it work. Instinctively, I knew that NPO in early labor was wrong. I encouraged laboring mothers to assume upright postures. And much more.

The bosses and the coworkers called me a troublemaker. Then, fighting for better birth practices often made me feel like I was being a bad little girl. Now, I feel like a totally smart woman who was (and probably still is!) ahead of the times. Certainly, low-tech approaches have been and continue to be important to me.

I’ve never regretted being a nurse

I did my time working nights, weekends, and holidays. I have put up with unenlightened bosses, backstabbing coworkers, cranky patients, inept interns and residents, cocky surgeon-divas, and much more. But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I won’t say I’ve done it all, but I’ve done a lot. I’ve been a staff nurse, a clinical nurse specialist, a university faculty instructor, a nurse administrator, an author, a founding editor of a major nursing publication, president of BabyFriendly USA, a founding member of the US Breastfeeding Committee and probably more that I’ve half-forgotten about. And nothing I’ve ever done before or since compares to my two experiences sitting on the NCLEX panel. Having such enriching experiences has — and will continue to — keep me going long after my classmates have all retired.

I do celebrate Nurses Day every year. And if you love being a nurse, you should, too!

What do you love about being a nurse? How have the nurses in your life impacted you? Tell me in the comments below! Share this post with the nurses in your life, and say, “thanks!”

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4 Comments

Jeanne Friebe · May 7, 2019 at 7:44 am

Marie, I loved your post. Experienced nurses such as yourself, have made such and impact on me and I am very grateful. I love being a nurse to help and serve others and at my advanced age as a nurse, I hope to influence others as well. Happy Nurses week.

    Marie Biancuzzo · May 7, 2019 at 8:29 am

    Jeanne, thank you! Making an impact is what I have always hoped to do! Thanks for letting me know!

Brandee · May 7, 2019 at 11:55 am

Being a Nurse is one of the most fulfilling things that I have done, besides being a wife/mother. I work in Public Health and love to see how little things can make a huge impact. Making a difference in health with clinical needs and with educational needs is gratifying and does sort of make it super hero like. 🙂

    Marie Biancuzzo · May 7, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Totally agree! When I was a clinical instructor at the universities, I would not let the student off the clinical floor until she/he could tell me, before leaving for the day, how she had made a difference for the patient. A few students didn’t realize how serious I was, and reported, “Oh, um, well, nothing really, I don’t think I did anything that made a difference today.” I sent the student right back out to the clinical floor, and said we would both stay and work until she DID make a difference! I only had to say that a time or two. After that, all of the students realized I was serious—making a difference is why you’re a nurse and why you’re there! Keeping your eye on the ball; making a conscience effort to make a difference every day…that’s what we do! Thank you for your comment.

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