At one time or other in life, we may all be put in the position of being a Nurse. But not all of us rise to the occasion. Natural Nurses are the ones who do not turn from the difficult physical responsibilities required by tending to the bodily needs of others. “Nursing is an art,” Florence Nightingale wrote in her book, Notes on Nursing, “For what is having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God’s spirit?” It’s no wonder she’s the person who comes to mind above all others as the archetypal nurse.
Like Clara Barton, who founded the Red Cross and was known as “the angel of the battlefield,” Nightingale embraced her role of tending to the sick with a kind of messianic zeal. People who are nurses are just that way. Even if not professionals, they are the ones most at ease when caring for children, siblings, friends and aging parents. When Walt Whitman went to visit his brother, a Civil War soldier in Virginia, he started making the rounds visiting the wounded in the battlefield and continued it in hospitals in Washington, where he comforted soldiers and helped them write letters home. He thought of himself as “a sustainer of spirit and body,” but his visits were good for his spirit too because they later inspired his writing.
And with controversial figures such as Margaret Sanger, the 19th century nurse and advocate for birth control, or Showtime’s fictional TV Nurse Jackie, a troubled person but inspiring and compassionate advocate for any patient, for great nurses, it is always all about someone other than themselves.
Mary Todd Lincoln, Dorothea Dix, Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, Greg Focker
Nurses are able to stay calm and function in emergencies. They have strong powers of endurance as well, so that they can continue giving care over long periods of time.
Nurses can suffer from burnout when their selflessness keeps them from taking care of themselves.
Finding ways to comfort others, inspiring those who are unwell with kindness and humor
- A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
- Drum-Taps by Walt Whitman
- The Story of My Childhood by Clara Barton
- Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou
“They may forget your name but they will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou