Caring is essential

Caring is essential

Doris Greggs-McQuilkin

Let us dare to care. I have always said that caring is what we do, and care is what we give. Caring is what started it all in the first place. Caring is nursing at its core. It is essential; it is what separates us from other professionals. It is up to us to keep the caring in nursing. When you say “nursing,” you should automatically think “caring, nurturing, and serving.” Don’t start with power but instead with passion. When you are passionate about something, you believe in what you are doing; you give your best at all times. When the caring and passion are gone, so is nursing. One does not exist without the other.

AMSN is an organization (or community) that has a shared interest and a common goal. We care about our patients, their families, and our profession. “There is no greater power than a community discovering what it cares about” (Wheatley, 2002). Medical-surgical nurses are passionate about being medical-surgical nurses. They must be, because they show up for work every day. They are passionate about people and are always striving for excellence. They are a strong and steadfast group. “The strength and reality of every organization lies in the sense of the community of the people who have been attracted to it” (Hock, 1999). We must continue to find others who are just as passionate and who care about the same things that we care about as nurses and as an organization. There is power in numbers, but it takes only one passionate person to make a difference. AMSN exists today because of caring, passion ate, and courageous people who believe medical-surgical nursing is a specialty.


Caring must first start with each of us. We cannot give what we do not possess. Self-care is very important and is the key to giving compassionate care to our patients, families, and others who may cross our paths. When you feel good about yourself, it spills over into every aspect of your life. Self-care involves taking charge of your life, taking time out for you, setting priories in life, and learning how to say “no.” Saying “no” is not easy for many of us, but it is important to recognize when you can’t add another thing to your plate, and not feel guilty about it. Oprah Winfrey always says, “Live your best life.” I say live in the moment and remember that you are human. Take the time to smell the flowers, and watch a sunset and a sunrise. Take a good time out because, at the end of the day, all you have is you. If you do not start to reflect, refocus, replenish, and refuel yourself along the way, you will surely burn out. At the end of your professional journey, your life must have meant something. Leave your footprints in the sand and make a statement.


We must be an organization and a profession that takes care of both novice and mature nurses. They both need the same thing: nurturing. AMSN started a program last year called Nurses Nurturing Nurses (N3), which is still in its pilot stage. This program brings together a novice nurse, the mentee, with a mentor who is an experienced nurse. I hope that once the preliminary data are evaluated and the project is complete, we will extend this type of mentorship program to all nurses. The mature nurse returning to the bedside needs nurturing and could benefit from a program like this. It is my belief that you can be mentored at any age, because after all, a mentor is a teacher, confidant, guide, friend, or someone who may be a part of your life forever.

Nursing as Caring

According to Boykin and Schoenhofer (2001), the theory of nursing as caring is grounded in several key assumptions: persons caring by virtue of their humanness, persons living their caring moment to moment, and persons being whole or complete in the moment. Personhood is living life grounded in caring and is enhanced through participating in nurturing relationships. Nursing is both a discipline and a profession. The most basic premise of this theory is that it is a basic part of human nature to be caring. The central focus and aim of the theory of nursing as caring is that nursing is viewed as a discipline of knowledge and also as a professional service (Boykin & Schoenhofer, 2001).

A nurse is an expert in caring and must posses the five Cs: compassion, conscience, competence, confidence, and commitment (Roach, 1987). When we as nurses are identified with these attributes of caring, along with our standards of practice and knowledge, we are demonstrating caring at its ultimate, and we are full of caring at its best.

We all have known what it feels like to give someone kind, compassionate care. We have put our hands on someone’s head, or hushed a patient’s tears with a hug. We have consoled a family in need. This is living in the moment. We dare to care, which is why we are in this profession. Caring is essential to the very essence of our profession. Keep the caring in nursing.


Boykin, A., & Schoenhofer, S.O. (2001). Nursing as caring: A model for transforming practice. Sudsbury, MA: National League for Nurses Press.

Hock, D. (2002). Birth of the chaordic age. San Francisco: BerrettKoehler. Roach, S. (1987). The human act of caring. Ottawa: Canadian Hospital Association.

Wheatley, M. (2002). Turning to one another. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Jannetti Publications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale Group