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Who Are You? What Are You Doing Here?

Have you ever found yourself giving report at the end of the shift and unable to remember a patient's first name, what they look like, or even their gender? You know all the "important" things like diagnosis, medication schedule, and prognosis, but somehow, on that day, you were so busy doing nursing that you forgot to be a nurse.

We American healthcare professionals tend to equate the practice of healing with doing. Psychiatrist Elio Frattaroli says, "When we (Americans) have a problem, we fix it, and we prefer to do it quickly. But fixing is not the same as healing; in fact, it can easily get in the way of healing.

But Fixing is something mechanical, scientific, economic, military." This, he points out, leaves us, care providers, open to inflicting pain on our patients by dehumanizing them – forgetting their names.

Dr.Frattaroli says, "healing is something human, emotional, spiritual." He asserts that health care providers who focus on being with and feeling provide more wholistic and effective healing action.

The word healing comes from the Anglo-Saxon root word haelan, which means to become whole. In an article in the American Nurse, Lorre Laws, Ph.D., RN, says, "The Haelan Effect, first defined by nurse scholar Janet Quinn, describes the personal process of repair and recovery as one moves from dis-ease or dis-connection to a state of wholeness in body-mind-spirit. This is accomplished by positioning oneself in right relationship for healing, internally and externally."

Most of us spend years training to become a healthcare provider because we desire to walk alongside and support others on their healing journey. How, then, do we end up moving through our days completing tasks and failing to remember our patients' full humanity? Could it be we have forgotten who we are and why we became a nurse?

A friend often tells his faith community about a first-century Rabbi named Akiva. He says one day, Akiva was walking to his home after a long day of study. Lost in his thoughts about his studies and tasks yet to do in the day, he wandered off his usual path home. He was suddenly jolted into consciousness when a soldier yelled at him from the top of the gates.

The soldier asked, "Who are you? And what are you doing here?"

Rabbi Akiva was so disoriented and surprised by his surroundings that he muttered a confused, "What?"

With exasperation, the soldier repeated himself, shouting, "Who are you? And what are you doing here?"

Suddenly, Akiva had clarity and asked," How much are you paid to ask me these questions?"

The guard responded, "Two drachmas per week."

To this, Rabbi Akiva replied, "I'll pay you TWICE that amount if you'll stand outside my home and ask me those two questions every morning!!!"

What do you need at the start of your day to help remind you why you became a nurse?

What do you need to do every day to be your authentic self?

What daily practices do you need to engage in to maintain your stance as a healer rather than a dissociated fixer?

I doubt it will be a soldier standing outside your door, but maybe.

Consider trying one of these daily practices (click link).

David R. Mengyan, L. interactive. C. websites with database driven power- (n.d.). Healing the soul in the age of the brain becoming conscious in an unconscious world by Elio Frattaroli, M.D. Book Cover.

Senior, R. (2022, April 3). An integrative approach to healing the overworked, weary, or traumatized nurse. American Nurse.

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