Tuesday, May 20, 2014

(Re)claiming 'Nurse'

And here we are, at the end of May. It's been a wild ride of classes (micro and patho, this past semester); I've traveled the spare sage brush of literal and figurative distances. Through the high peaks and dusty bottomed-out roads, however, I've had the constant of my little pre-k ones.

That is, until today. Yesterday, I got up, got dressed, and hopped over to my school. I chatted with a couple of the teachers in the sunny entryway, and with it reflected in my daily bendición of how my Spanish has improved over the last six months. I picked up my babies from the bus - now, even the quietest little girl will point out purple flower or a sparrow alighting on the roof. In her gruff little voice, she announces: "Mire. Un gorrión." To volunteer 'sparrow' when she was once pressed to say 'bird' before is a great and tiny triumph.

I showed our little scholars the recently-hatched Painted Lady butterflies, fetched snack, exchanged pleasantries with the parents. . . and then I left. For, you see, I was dressed in scrubs. I drove straight over to Santa Fe Community College to begin my first day of my accelerated BSN program.

It was a long day - 8.30-3.30, with a lunch break spent wrestling with registrars for transcripts - and one full of mandatory introductions and handbook-reviewing and sitting sitting sitting in a persistently air-conditioned room. My token of comfort through that long day (in the way of pivotal days, yesterday seems simultaneously a long time ago and still continuing) was the card in my scrubs pocket: Maestra Alix, it says, Nunca te olvidaré

I'll tell you, more than once yesterday I wanted to turn tail and run back to my primary colors and Crayola paints. If being an EA wasn't a criminal salary, I'd be highly tempted to just do that for a couple of years. Every day, I got practice in patience, compassion, creativity, love, and plain out fun and laughter. I'm getting saccharine, so I'll cut myself off. But really, I knew I needed to just remember the end in mind. Though it's pretty far out of my realm of experience, justice through healthcare is the aim.

This reminder was helped by a long walk through my Santa Fe neighborhood, a chat with a good friend, a satisfyingly-gross Baskin Robbins novelty flavor,  and my favorite agave in the entire world. The bees and tumbling hedge of yellow roses didn't hurt either.

Today, I had a wonderful time. This lunch - and WOWZERS, does an hour-long lunch feel delectable! - I had with a few of my program-mates (there are 13 of us in all), and then lounged in the grass reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. In terms of academics, we had a basic math lesson in conversions, a morning of therapeutic communication analysis and lecture, and an afternoon chock full of the history of nursing, the art and sciences of professionalism and caring, and a brief discussion on the changing political and social landscape of healthcare.

So, I am happy to claim my SFCC patch: Student Nurse. I have for a few years been thrilled about the various opportunities subsequently available to me: most notably, midwifery, birth assistance, L&D, women's health, hospice, and school nursing. However, I honestly don't think I had quite realized the incredible competence and autonomy, as well as the altruism and compassion, of this inspiring profession. I will be posting more on this, as I learn more. For now, suffice it to say that it - like the other 'female' field of primary school education - is an immensely under-recognized field.

Yes, we love our nurses. We love our teachers. But our society does not yet give either their full due of professional respect. Nurses hold the whole web of public health together, and do so at all levels of technical and intellectual expertise. It seems we should look more to the Brits, with their Olympics tributes and lovely BBC Call the Midwife, to understand more fully the prudent, professional nurse.

It's a tall order, but damn exciting one.
Over and out ~