2007 Winning Essay
After graduating from Nazareth College, I spent a year-and-a-half on the Flex team here at the hospital where I currently work. This gave me a broader base of experience as well as more in depth knowledge. I then made the choice to go back to the adult oncology floor, which is one of the best in the hospital. I really love the oncology patient population!
A Nurse I Am
Having an opportunity to watch the short movie A Nurse I Am has meant a great deal to me personally. There are two key ways that the movie affected me. The primary way it reached me was as a man in nursing. The second way has to do with recognizing the distinct combination of qualities and gifts that an exceptional nurse leader must posses.
One of the personal struggles I have faced, as a man in Nursing is that I love the work, but still wrestle with the issue of gender roles. To put it simply, I often have trouble seeing it as “manly work.” This is why it was so inspiring to see a man like Bob Wilkinson being recognized for his work with children who were fighting cancer. I think it is important to show men who are competent in the fullest sense of the word; not just in relation to technical skills and knowledge, but also embodying the inner strength and love required to be truly compassionate. The reason that this is so critical is that our culture often only associates these qualities with women. I think these qualities are essential for all people in health care, especially nurses.
The root words of compassion can be separated into the words passion “to suffer” and com “with”. For me compassion requires this distinct ability to enter into the suffering of another. It is the process of entering into suffering and being a companion to others in their pain that is one of the aspects of nursing care that makes an exceptional nurse.
Unfortunately, for too long traditional maleness has been associated only with negative human qualities such as macho behavior, violence, being authoritarian and even devaluating and exploiting women. The consequence of this has been many men have been robbed of healthy human qualities. Men in our culture have suffered a poverty of access to human qualities such as nurture, good listening, compassion and even vulnerability. However, I do not think that the solution is for men to become feminized and abandon the masculine. The challenge is for men in nursing to embrace and express the essential human qualities of caring while also retaining the essential dimensions of positive masculinity: for example, positive qualities like strength (both physical and inner), courage, initiative, and assertiveness. Bob Wilkinson was an inspirational example because he managed to embody the best human qualities of compassion without sacrificing his masculine identity.