October 2, 2006, 10:40 am

To Work In The Service of Life and the Living



Maybe the mother never sees it because someone has a big, fat anesthesia bag over her face?

And someone better look at her abdomen, it looks like she may have two more of those in there!

I wouldn’t have known a doula from a hole in the ground when my kids were born, but I have doubt that my first child would have been born my cesearean if I had an advocate in that labor room.

Someday I’ll tell that story, maybe over on Scared to Health.

I’ll make sure my daughters know what a doula is. They’ll have a choice.


Okay, so I’m sitting on the couch, minding my own business and half watching/listening to a John Denver special on PBS.

It’s pledge week, so they bring out the doo-wap groups, the Bee Gees and John Denver.

Now, I don’t mind telling you that back in the mid-seventies, I had a bit of a “thing” for ol’ John.

Let’s put it this way: every song in my wedding was a John Denver song.

Every one.

So all of a sudden, there is a clip of him singing “Calypso”, circa 1975 (from the Windsong album, if you’re into trivia).

And I hear the line that makes up the title of this blog entry.


A blog post is born.

I’m telling you, inspiration comes from where you least expect it.

But I have to admit, I really hate “Sunshine On My Shoulders”.

Sorry, John.


What a great description of what we do.

We work in the service of life and the living.

It’s pretty special when you stop to think of it.

The operative word here being “service”.

I don’t mean dealing in a service, although that is what we do.

I’m talking about service as in serving our fellow human beings.

Often at great sacrifice to ourselves and our families.

Everyone of us who work in this field has made, is making, or will continue to make sacrifices.



The medical student who goes into major debt for 20 years because he/she has borrowed the money to finance their education.

So they can serve.

The nursing student in their mid-40s who is finally taking the step they have considered for so long, requiring a major re-distribution of finances and more responsibilities placed on family members.

So they can serve.

The surgical resident/registrar who goes three days on minimal sleep because they are needed in surgery, where they learn their craft.

So they can serve.

The veteran RN, cynical on the outside, soft-hearted on the inside, who picks up that extra shift so her co-workers won’t have to work shorthanded.

So they can serve.

And let’s not forget the hard-working CNAs and ER techs who work holidays and weekends and stay that extra hour for their patients.

They are serving.

We are in a unique postition to see life throughout its cycle. From the moment of birth until the patient breathes their last.

We see the worst. And the best.

People tell us their most intimate secrets.

They trust us.

And that is the most humbling aspect of all.


When I was young, I focused on the technical aspects of patient care.

The adrenaline rush.

With experience (and age) came the realization that while a patient may benefit by the care they receive, I am benefiting by actually serving the patient.

In so many different ways.

I can tell you this: if you are in the health care business for yourself/for monetary gain you will not last.

Service is a gift.

Nursing is a service.

And I may gripe about the patient load, I may moan over the “regulars” that we often see and I may dread the extra shift and the sacrifice that it will entail.

But I’m a nurse.

And I’m proud to serve.


  • Cath

    October 2, 2006 at 11:40 am

    Amen, Kim.

    I spent years trying to get trained to work in a UK NHS path lab. In the end, I had to retrain in a totally different job in the NHS, learn how to do that job so that I wouldn’t short-change the NHS whilst studying, then save up so I could fund my way through the degree. It’s taken me a long, long time, and all my spare savings, but I finished the degree this year. There are no jobs at the moment, but when I do finally get back to a path lab, I will still feel that it’s an honour to be allowed to serve the public (even if they are, individually, sometimes annoying).

  • RedNP

    October 2, 2006 at 1:07 pm


  • DisappearingJohn

    October 2, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    A very nice post, Kim!

  • Kelly

    October 2, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    Considering your first comment, how about a nurse-midwife? I had one with my first two, and she was a peach. And if I didn’t have a midwife (not the nurse kind) now, then I WOULD have a doula for sure. I don’t think anyone should go through that without one! (Sorry Daddies–you just can’t relate!)

  • Mother Jones RN

    October 2, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    Well said, Kim. Nursing isn’t about just “customer service,” it’s about service to humanity.

  • Linda

    October 2, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    Do us all a favor and take my advice:
    1. Take all your inspiration and your blog posts and channel that into a book (sell it and make a lot of profit)
    2. Finish the BSN program
    3. With your book deal profits, go back to school and get an MSN
    4. Teach and inspire the future generation of nurses.

    That’s all. Shouldn’t be too much work for you! πŸ™‚

  • unsinkablemb

    October 2, 2006 at 9:17 pm

    What a wonderful post! I’ve been away from writing and reading blogs for way too long. And by the way, take Linda’s advice! πŸ™‚

  • Julie

    October 3, 2006 at 1:53 am

    Kim, I agree with Linda; you make an excellent mentor – Teach! Write!
    Wonderful post.

  • Rita Schwab

    October 3, 2006 at 5:04 am

    Ah, another John Denver groupie! My mother even had a soft spot for him; she fell for him the first time she heard Almost Heaven, West Virgina, since that was her home state.

    Among my favorites are the little known “This Old Guitar” and “Matthew.”

    I couldn’t agree more about Sunshine on My Shoulders – what were you thinking John??

    Rita S.

  • Marcia

    October 3, 2006 at 5:22 am

    Awesome post, Kim.

    And I love Mr. Denver too.

  • Susan

    October 3, 2006 at 11:53 am

    Well said Kim! People don’t understand that when we say nursing is customer service, this is what we mean.

  • birdy

    October 3, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    It really is a calling, isn’t it?

  • scalpel

    October 4, 2006 at 6:41 am

    I like Sunshine on My Shoulders. (shrug) πŸ™‚

    Nice post.

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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