What It Means to Be a Nurse

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Two Marian nursing student working with a syringe above text that reads what nursing means

Becoming a nurse is a dream, an ambition, and a calling for many students — not a decision lightly made. It requires initiative and constant dedication, from the challenge of earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree to carrying out day-in-day-out responsibilities and patient care as a practicing nurse.

Nurses are driven to care and apply that drive every day in every patient interaction. The public values the many contributions nurses make to their care, which is why nurses have ranked as the most trusted profession in the U.S. for nearly two decades. But what does it mean to be a nurse, and what is the role of a nurse in healthcare? Here, we’ll uncover what nurses bring to our healthcare system and dig deeper to examine what nursing truly means to students and patients alike.

Filling an Indispensable Role in Healthcare

The role nurses fill within the healthcare system is crucial, especially with more people in need of care now than ever. Nurses are a patient’s first point of contact to their care team, administering treatments and medications while carefully monitoring their status and coordinating the responses from the rest of the care team.

Just as physicians practice according to a medical model of care focusing on diagnosing and treating symptoms, nurses utilize a more hands-on, holistic approach, which is equally essential in the successful treatment of patients. Nurses spend more time with patients than is feasible for other care team members, so they often form a more comprehensive picture of each patient’s particular situation. Nurses take a person’s whole range of needs into account, which helps build personal connections, opportunities for closer observation, and, when possible, chances to boost their spirits.

The nursing role complements other elements of patient care and can ensure individuals receive the best care possible. Through the instruction they receive in Marian University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, and firsthand experience during in-person nursing clinicals at Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis, Ascension Saint Thomas in Nashville, and top healthcare facilities in the greater Oklahoma City metro area, students will be ready to step up as nursing leaders upon graduation.

Living Out Nursing Values and Ethics

Just as the instructors and administration in Marian University’s 16-month ABSN program are driven to provide each student with the best nursing education possible in the academic sense, we are also dedicated to graduating practice-ready nurses with an emphasis on values and ethics. Our Franciscan outlook aligns with the types of nurses we will always need more of: those who view nursing as a calling and are ready to transform lives, as well as society, through their care. But how can nurses live out these values and ethics in each day of practice?

Marlita, who graduated from the Marian ABSN program in 2019, shared the loving legacy that drew her to nursing. As she recalls, “I grew up hearing about the legacy of my grandmother and her sister. They were the first black nurses for their hospital in Huntsville during integration. There’s a scholarship at the Huntsville Hospital on her behalf because she was such a compassionate nurse. My grandmother was extremely passionate, and her legacy lives on in the Huntsville Hospital. Just hearing those stories gives me the motivation to be a better nurse because I would like for others to someday think of me in that same regard.”

Respecting the Dignity of the Individual

Calling back to the holistic care model nurses practice, respecting individual dignity and treating patients as more than a number is the most sacred of values to bring into a nursing career. As a nurse, you’ll care for people of all backgrounds and circumstances — which could differ radically from your own. It’s important to uphold the dignity inherent in each human life during each patient interaction so that your ability to lift spirits, in addition to providing care, can make a real impact on a patient’s recovery.

Heather, another Marian ABSN program graduate, shared the life-changing experience that drove her to become a nurse.

“I’ve always been interested in what nurses do,” she says. “Having so many children and seeing how the nurses take care of people really resonated with me. About seven years ago, I got cancer. When I was going through treatment, I had the most amazing nurse. She was truly an angel to me. I would watch how she would take care of me and others. I was just taken aback by her kindness and her gentleness. Because of my experience as a cancer patient, I'd like to go into oncology nursing myself and go back to the same place where I was treated and treat other patients with my perspective of having been a patient. My nurses truly saved my life, and I attribute that to me being here today.”

Caring for All, Regardless of Circumstances

Many days as a nurse can be challenging, and patients can be difficult to interact with. However, nurses are driven to provide the same high standard of care to everyone. Whether they’re pleasant or challenging, cooperative or not, every person deserves treatment when ill. As the frontline member of each patient’s care team, you are the face of the care they receive. Finding compassion for all and never letting interactions affect the quality of care is one of the most necessary parts of the nursing profession.

Begin Your Nursing Journey

Now that you have the answers to your question of what it means to be a nurse and have seen the good that nurses are able to affect through their care and compassion, it might be time for you to begin your nursing journey as an ABSN student. You could complete your education and begin to live out this calling in as few as 16 months with help from Marian. Contact our admissions team today and take the first step toward a new career as exciting as it is rewarding.