Last March I attended the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Student Policy Summit in Washington, DC as the Shady Grove campus representative. It was a great experience and one of the things that stuck with me was a presentation about the media’s portrayal of nurses. Numbering more than 3,000,000 in the United States, registered nurses make up the largest segment of the healthcare workforce. But despite consistently ranking as one of the most trusted professions, nursing has suffered a number of image issues. (A few weeks ago my sister was kind enough to send me a link to a “Sexy Ebola Nurse” costume when I came up short for Halloween ideas. I, uh, opted out.)

One thing I like to do when the light at the end of the school tunnel seems especially dim is to read about nurses who have made it to the “other side,” who are out practicing and, who, I feel, are representing the profession in a positive manner. The nurses below have taken their experiences to social media and the printed word. In doing so they’re elevating the profession and taking back what it means to be a nurse.

Yes, it’s a difficult job; no it’s not the ONLY difficult job. And no, these authors, bloggers, tweeters, and Instagrammers are not ignoring the difficulties of day-to-day nursing. But in every post there’s an undercurrent of passion and pride for the profession. No matter how difficult each day is, these nurses continue to learn, to work in teams, and to try their hardest to improve the lives of their patients.

So, I present to you a couple of the many RNs I click through for inspiration:

Theresa Brown, RN – An English PhD turned oncology RN, Theresa Brown writes regularly for the New York Times. I enjoy her posts not only for her writing style but also for her thoughtful and reflective content from the perspective of someone who made a rather drastic career change. I cannot recommend her book “Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Life, Death and Everything in Between” highly enough. I devoured it in one sitting.

Katie Duke, RN – I have to confess that I don’t watch “NY Med” (the ABC show on which Emergency Department nurse Kate Duke is featured) with any semblance of regularity. It’s not for quality reasons, it’s just because I am terrible at committing to television shows on a weekly basis. That being said I DO follow Katie Duke religiously on Instagram. She’s in the throes of a Nurse Practitioner program at Columbia University while working about a zillion hours in the ER. She writes effusively about the need for nurses to support each other and to take pride in their work. She’s had a long road to pursuing an advanced degree and I’ve recited her “Deal With It” motto more than once to myself.

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