Nursing: More Than Just a Degree

Kim Johnson

A vast majority of my friends and the people that I know are in the field of nursing. Because of this, the phrase, “just a nurse” isn't one that I hear very often. That being said, I was having a conversation the other day and that sentence set my ears on fire. I was immediately taken aback by the sheer ignorance that I had been privy to.

The word “just” is such a simple word of the English language. “It’s just a cold.” or “It’s just a few snowflakes,” are sentences that we hear often and things that one may be accustomed to hearing. Because of that, I am not sure that we understand how much of an impact that word may have when placed before a title such as nurse.

I feel the same when it comes to any and all fields of the service kind. Firefighters, police officers, our armed forces, doctors, paramedics and so many more give their time and do so much to serve their communities. Just as with the aforementioned fields above, nurses do the same.

Nurses help bring babies into this world. They assist when those babies aren't the beautiful bouncing ones that our minds have come to expect. They hold patients’ hands and ensure that they pass away peacefully, with dignity. Nurses counsel grieving and struggling families over diagnosis and loss. They bear witness to the precipice of life and death and do so with a solemn understanding towards the moment that they are privy to.

It is troublesome to me that one can diminish the incredible place that a nurse holds in society by saying “She is just a nurse.” Our depictions of nurses, and those in the medical field alike, is quite skewed by pop culture representations. But in truth, it in an undeniably honorable profession to be a part of.

I personally have watched those in the field of medicine become so much more than what their degrees stipulate. With my sister, many of them were more than members of her care team. They were beside us for every piece of news that we received in nearly three years time. They waited anxiously after every scan, just as we did. They held her hand as she was scared during each chemo treatment because of the many reactions my sister had during treatment,

When things looked bleak, and in those times when it looked like we were approaching the end, I never felt alone because they were always beside my sister and I through it all. To say that what they did was “just nursing,” is a disservice to the kind hearts and gentle souls that practice nursing each and everyday.

It is a sad reality to know that many out there do not understand all that it means for one to be a nurse. I, on the other hand, am so lucky to know what it means because I have witnessed it many times over. It is why I am in school and will one day strive to practice the same way that all the nurses I have come to know do on the daily. It is why I am so bothered when one days “just a nurse.” Because to me, nurses simply are so much more than the letters “RN.”

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