The Heart and Soul of a Nurse

By Tara Weston, RN, BN, BSc, MHCM

Nurses start their careers with an innate desire, a fire in their bellies to heal the world. With heart and soul, a nurse will enter their workspace with the determination, love and care to make a difference in their patients’ lives, despite their personal and family needs. Yes, nurses choose this profession of service, of healing. However, what isn’t chosen is the reality – a whirlwind of understaffing, cutbacks, overcrowding, lack of resources and lack of support throughout the healthcare sector. Nurses are so overworked and under-supported, that burnout is at an all-time high. It is sad that nurses are sacrificing their own health and wellbeing for that of their patient(s). In the end, the nurse suffers, the patient suffers, and the toll this takes on the healthcare system is severe. Many days, one can turn on the news and see stories of nurses frequently being verbally and physically assaulted.

It is like the healthcare sector is in a pressure cooker that is about to explode.

Good news! Things are not all doom and gloom! There are ways in which we as nurses can fortify our resolve and bolster ourselves through self-care; nursing our own hearts and souls back to health.

What Can We Do?

Self-care is NOT selfish; it is NECESSARY for thriving. Recognizing and setting the intention for body, mind and spirit self-care, is the essence of nursing praxis, moreover holistic nursing, as first noted by Florence Nightingale. It is not good enough to just show up and do the tasks necessary for survival, but to BE – the service of helping others is in the truth of helping yourself first. Julia Balzer Riley (2003), stated “As I care for myself, so I care for my clients. As I care for myself, so I care for my family and the people who are important to me”. I challenge each and every nurse to pause and reflect how you can be true to yourself; your purpose, your light. What are ways in which you can ignite that fire again and stand in your essence of authenticity? There are a number of resources and tools to help you achieve your own optimal health and wellbeing. Changing the face of healthcare starts here and now. It starts with YOU!

Patients are more educated than ever before. People want to explore complementary healing modalities along-side traditional medicine to achieve their best state of self. Patients will, ARE, and WILL BE looking for nurses to guide them. What better way to help others than by living by example?! Take a deep breath (or maybe a few) and start with addressing WHY you became a nurse. Dig deep, do the work. Seek resources to assist you. I promise it will be worth it when you are finally aligned with that divine fire that has you living with purpose again.

Riley, J.B. (2003, January). Finding one more moment: Holistic self-caring strategies …the foundation of caring. Paper presented at the Closing Session, Mosby Faculty Development Conference, Miami, FL.

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