The Anatomy of Nurse Volunteerism

So you just graduated from college, pinned that university nursing pin on your left collar, passed the board exam and pledged to God, BON and Nightingale that you will spend your life in purity and practice your profession faithfully.  You undergo a myriad of trainings and seminars, First Aid, BLS, IVT, because it is considered mandatory nowadays and most hospitals will not allow you to ‘work’ for their institution without  expensive training certificates.

You pass your resume to several hospitals, use to your advantage every backer you and your parents know. After a couple of weeks of waiting, you get restless, bored and depressed from being an unproductive member of society. You are already considered a young adult. You’re supposed to be doing something with your life.

You consider applying for call center jobs just to earn money, but your brand new PRC license, 4 years worth of nursing education and Nightingale’s spirit floating in the air beside you like a Safeguard commercial stops you from letting go of your registered profession altogether. Mainly because there’s nothing else left to do, you decide to file and volunteer for a hospital. You try to delude yourself that you are training, but inside, you know that  what you are doing is offering your services for free.

After months, even years for some, you find yourself again inside the busy bustling world of vital signs, charting, IVs and orders. It’s amazing, fun and intoxicating. You meet new people, make friends with colleagues, learn new things and do procedures you were never allowed to do. You feel like you are now part of the health care system and not anymore just a nursing student trailing after her clinical instructor. You feel empowered, able and competent.

Add to that, you get to help people in some of the worst days of their lives. You feel like you’re doing something right and selfless, probably for the first time in yours.

But then weeks, months, even years pass. Hospitals after hospitals will accept you as a volunteer but never seem to hire. The initial bliss of having something to do and somewhere to go gradually dies down replaced by fatigue, burn out and this vague feeling of uncertainty. What am I doing here? How long will this go on? What’s in it for me?

You start to question your purpose in life. Do you really want to be a nurse? If there’s a better opportunity somewhere else, one that does not involve being an RN, would you take it? Should you take it?

With the current condition of nurses in the country these days, are you really waiting for a better tomorrow, when tides change and employment will be available once again, or wasting your time and energy being voluntarily used by these multi-million institutions, all of which can’t seemingly afford to hire you even though it is fairly obvious that they need more skilled manpower? In fair trade, what company in their right mind will pay for nurses if hundreds of others are willing to work for them for free?

I once read an article referring to nurses as heroes of the current generation. Then someone commented on how self-righteous that was to call one’s own profession as heroic. He then pointed out that it is called a job and not some superhuman feat of self-sacrifice.

I think, it could only be called a JOB if you’re getting paid for what you are doing, and not the other way around. Caring for the sick is probably not as noble as dying in Bagumbayan for your own country but it has a degree of altruism not seen in just about anyone.

I think the majority of the population is too selfish, too human to spend their days and years serving mankind with not much in return.

Photo by: Romuald Maranoc

To be or not to be, that is the question.

If you took up Nursing just because your parents says so or you envision yourself in the middle of  glitz and glamour, strutting the streets of L.A. or London without much effort to get there, then this profession is not for you. If you can’t handle carrying out orders for the majority of your professional life and if the weight of lives on your shoulders seems too much to bear, then don’t do it.

But if you got into this profession in your own free will, without the lure of gold coins and fancy lifestyle, if the universe of health care and medicine just inspires and amazes you, then please, for all our sakes, continue what you are doing now and show the world there are still people like you who was born to serve and make  this country, and eventually the world, a better, more caring place.

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About Clarrise E. 9 Articles
RN. Pianist. Aspiring Novelist. Dreams of changing the world one sentence at a time.
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  • rean

    hello,im inspired by these article and somewhat realized that i haven’t done much for my profession…i graduated last april 2009 and took the PNLE last Dec.2009 and luckily passed it,but as for trainings i wasn’t able to try it up to now…i am one of those whom my uncle and auntie convinced me to take up nursing,they sent me to college coz my parents can’t support my schoolings so i did my best to succeed,still even it’s their choice i learned to love the course as i go through toxicity of studying and having duties,now i wanted to pursue my profession yet i can’t because i have to work and be responsible of my family now,i have not any choice…i hope i can go back to hospitals to render services as a health worker.i know God will not let me just be like these forever,someday sun will shine on me and opportunities will knock on me…i believe it…i have faith in HIM.

  • mashala

    yes its true. I have the same fate before to volunteer for more than 2 years. I cant imagine it happen to me for a free service but as they say that what is meant for nurses to bring courage is to sacrifice for others as long as respect for us nurses was there. But God end up that scenario in my career when i was hired in that same hospital. Im blessed coz i encounterd a lot of experience to use and share to others as long as there are lives waiting for my service. Not always darkness comes in our way there is a rainbow after the rain. Dont lose hope. Filipino nurses isthe best!