Updated October 2023
I have often been fascinated by the origin stories of our heroes. That one chance moment. That one failure. That one event that created some of our greatest superheroes. The first ostomy pouch was created because a nurse saw a need to take care of a loved one, and in turn invented an industry that now allows us to take care of the patients that we hold so dear. Each event that we experience in our day-to-day lives could be such an event that creates the next new change or inspire the next generation to do great things.
What is it about those events that create heroes and not villains? We are inspired by our heroes and disgusted by our villains, but origin stories can create both the good and the evil that we see in this world. We all aspire to be heroes, and to be the next great voice that provides knowledge or instruction to the next generation. All the while the villains may be hiding in the background causing us to doubt our discoveries and whispering those uncertainties that make us doubt ourselves.
Nursing is a practice of caring. Caring for others but often not caring for each other. A phrase that surrounded me as a new nurse was “nurses eat their young.” This implying that one must have a strong, thick skin to withstand some of the pressures senior nurses will put on you. Like any novice nurse I doubted such things would happen, and yet I saw them every day. Nurses tearing down each other, forgetting the most basic rules of human kindness. That behavior affected me so much that I too succumbed to the pressure of dragging others down to feel like a success.
It took soul searching and several nurturing individuals to pull me out of that destructive phase in my life. I then sought out a way to improve the work environment of those new nurses through advocacy, precepting, and instruction.
The act of kindness is free, but often it is much easier to tear down others than to build them up. You can always go back and repair the damage to some extent, but as wound, ostomy and continence nurses we know nothing is ever quite as strong as it was before it was injured.
I am exceptionally proud of the work that I've done as a leader in my work at the bedside, and the work that I have done as a WOC nurse. I am exceptionally proud of those individuals who have continued to make this community strong, and I hope this message serves as a reminder to be defiant when given the chance to stand up for our peers. Be a mentor. Grow our young.
Be the change that you wish to see in the world ~ Mahama Gandhi
Ferne Elsass, MSN, RN, CPN, CWON/ President of MAR