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‘White Christmas’: RNs on Duty

Column Title: Blissful Silence
by Ma. Kristel M. Nadlang

The chilly morning breezes and the flickering lights in alternating hues have heralded the start of the season most-loved and most-anticipated by the entire nation. This Yuletide season ushers in an upward spiral in commercialism as a multitude of people linger in malls and bazaars to pick out presents for their loved ones. Even the roads become accustomed to heavy traffic situations, frequent rush hours and an increase in the density of people. Christmas carols and jingles dominate the airplay in most radio stations everywhere, resulting to a ridiculous encore that could be straining to the ears if heard for hours. Social networking sites are bombarded with shout outs and status messages teeming with a lexicon associated with festivities, joyous exchanges and endless merry-making. Indeed, the Christmas season brings in an influx of endorphins or “happy hormones” in everyone’s systems.

It feels like breathing Christmas in every setting you are in—even in the four walls of the hospitals. To camouflage the serious aura of the medical institutions in time for this season of mirth, the administration would put up decorations of the red and green variety along with the colorful, perpetually shining lights in contrast to the dull, white surrounding they used to be. However, these are only superficial add-ons, aesthetically-speaking. They exist to remind the passersby of the upcoming Christmas celebration so as to avoid being tagged as “cold-hearted” or anti-social institutions. Nonetheless, in reality, hospitals do not cease operating just because it is the holiday season—the time when most people are off-duty and enjoying their long-awaited vacation in favorite destination spots. No, they are open 24/7 and in full swing. Saving lives is forever continuous in the pulsating beat of medical institutions.

The aforementioned statement speaks true of the people who collectively make hospitals functional. Among the front liners in the medical team are the registered nurses (RNs) stationed in the respective wards—the very same group of people who spend most of their time with the patients admitted in the unit. Because of this, RNs need to be in a continuous loop when providing patient care; there can never be any gap in the line-up of client assignments. With this, shifting schedules are enforced by the nursing administration. With the creation and implementation of shifting schedules, nurses can be rotated either to the morning, afternoon or night shift, not excluding holidays. Thus, RNs are obliged to render their service without being partial to the day and time of the year—not even on December 25, Christmas Day. This pertains to the “call of duty” that comes with a profession dealing with the entity that is life. Nurses cannot turn their backs on their vowed commitment “to do good” to their clientele. This was clearly expressed in the Nightingale’s pledge for nurses, “to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully”.

Nurses seem to be waging a “White Christmas” campaign in hospitals as they don their usual, reliable white uniforms and put their nursing caps on. To be working on a supposedly stress-free day may be overwhelming for most but the awaiting responsibility far outweighs personal interests and desires. That is what genuine commitment commands of people in the “caring” professions—to be mindless, devoted servants of the sick, the well and the afflicted. When nurses assume their caps on, it is tantamount to bearing the hefty responsibility of rendering quality patient care on their shoulders.

However, when nurses work for hours on supposed holidays, are they living on to their vocation and commitment truthfully or are they mere mechanical robots existing because they were forced to report on an unpleasant day for duty?

The answer lies on the honest registered nurse, herself. Some RNs feel “obliged” and “compelled” to work on December 25 when, considering the reality of this profession, they should not. In some people’s perspective, this circumstance could not be helped—most especially in our culture. Filipinos are known to have developed a penchant for holidays, merry-making. Furthermore, strong family ties and tradition dictate this invisible rule to be with our families and loved ones on special days of the year. As a result, Filipinos yearn for Noche Buenas or Christmas parties come holiday season.

Most RNs, on the other hand, do exhibit commitment and genuine sincerity in looking after the welfare of their clients. They do not sulk over missing festivities for they fully understand the gravity of the field they are in. True, they might to be with their respective families but they know it is also their responsibility to care for their clients—they are extremely good in prioritization. It is, indeed, the mark of a true nurse to continue to “care” despite the odds and to carry on fulfilling their duty on hand. Christmas, after all, is the season of love—a season where selflessness, generosity and charity become the cornerstone. A little bit of self-sacrifice does not hurt at all. Thus, if ever you get shifted on Christmas, consider this simple thought.

Put your nursing caps on. White Christmas, everyone!


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