Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Nurses As Connective Tissue

Last night on RN.FM Radio, we were graced with three guests, including the editor and two contributing authors from a new book, "I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming A Nurse". It was a fascinating and inspiring conversation, to say the least.

In the midst of the conversation, Lee Gutkind--the editor of the book and of the magazine, Creative Nonfiction--remarked that nurses are like "the connective tissue" of healthcare.

Here on Digital Doorway, I've said that nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system, and that is not an inaccurate statement. We are, in essence, the spine that keeps the body erect, and we protect and insulate the many axons and dendrites that communicate with one another to allow the "body" of the healthcare system carry out its duties. We are facilitators, protectors and guardians. I like the backbone metaphor, and I'll continue to use it from time to time.

However, the notion of nurses being like connective tissue is, dare I say, even more apt as a metaphor for nurses and nursing. We don't just hold things up--we hold things together. Connective tissue knits the various parts together in a way that holds, supports, strengthens and empowers those parts to be at their best, performing their jobs in the manner in which they were intended.

Connective tissue is like glue, but not glue that simply joins two disparate things together. Connective tissue is a living, breathing structure, and it responds to the needs of the things which it connects, and it serves a purpose of the utmost importance.

Nurses, like connective tissue, hold things together, knitting together the various parts in a way that makes the whole even greater than the sum of its parts. The healthcare system may be fractured, but without nurses, the entire system would be in disarray.

Yes, we are the connective tissue of healthcare. We're tough, flexible and protective, and our strengths amplify and support the strengths and functions of others.

We're nurses, and we're the ligaments, tendons and fascia that make it all possible. 

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