Why I Teach (Nursing)

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Howard Thurman said,

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

When I chose my career path, I didn’t ask myself what made me come alive. I asked what the world needed. I thought that doing what the world needed would make me come alive. So, I became a nurse.

Don’t get me wrong. I love nursing. But that doesn’t mean it has to light the fire in my soul. I am a good nurse. But that doesn’t mean nursing is the thing I do best. I did what I thought the world needed, and in doing it, I discovered what makes me come alive.

I teach because it makes me come alive. I teach nursing because nursing is what makes my students come alive.

Teaching nursing students fulfills me in two main ways. First, I know that for every student I help, I’m indirectly touching hundreds and thousands of patients. Second, I get to make a difference in my students’ lives.

I’ve taught students who were essentially homeless. And I’ve had students with strong support systems and doctoral degrees in other fields. There is no “traditional” nursing student, and I love that.

I’ve taught students who needed minimal assistance and thanked me for my role in their success. And I’ve had students for whom I’ve bent over backwards… sideways… inside-out… and however else one could figuratively bend. Some of those students have blamed me for their failure. Each time, I learn something from them: what I can do differently; how I can do better. 

I teach nursing because it teaches me. I teach nursing because it’s challenging, multilayered, and fulfilling. I teach nursing because it makes me come alive, and I hope that’s something the world needs.

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