The best jazz musicians can take a tired old tune and make it their own, creating fresh new melodies and reinterpreting their respective abilities and identities night after night. Their improvised music sounds composed, their composed music sounds improvised; there is always an air of professionalism amidst the steamy levels of cool. They may sound like they are making things up on the spot, but that’s only because they have the talent and courage to leap off the cliff, so much so that they can discard the sheet music and be completely themselves on stage, stripped of artifice, taking you along for the ride of discovery and transcendence.
The same can be said about nurses and of nursing. Nurses are highly trained to do what they do. They exude professionalism, but this just belies the fact that they are trained improvisers, approaching each day and each patient with a fresh pair of eyes and a willingness to come up with new things on the spot. Just like the jazz musician brings with them a different story each night, feeding off the energy of the band and speaking to the audience and uplifting an entire venue through collaboration and improvisation, the nurse too, approaches each day a little differently, healing with an open mind and heart, a vital link in the improvisational chain of healthcare.
Indeed, nurses spend time in the boot camp of nursing school, learning the ropes and practicing the notes of healthcare, but they cut their teeth in the hospitals, spending a lifetime learning how to play those notes well. Each day as a nurse is an adventure, but one that the nurse is trained to navigate with an almost rehearsed sense of composure.
Ask most people what nurses do and they will say that nurses take care of sick people. Some will even suggest that the nurse is just the handmaiden of the doctor. In truth, the nurse is that person closest to the patient; like the jazz musician they spend their lives wood-shedding their skills, developing their knowledge, and connecting with their audience. They will never get rich at what they do, but then again they don’t need to. Nurses do not choose to be nurses any more than jazz musicians choose to be jazz musicians. Nursing picked them, and each day they play their own brand of sweet music. For the jazz musician, that sweet music will make someone forget about a worry and heal them from the stresses of the day, taking them to a better place and a better time; their song becomes your song and together you find your way towards epiphany.
The nurse does all of this and more, for their song is the song of healing and they spend a lifetime perfecting it, revising the melody to meet the needs of each individual patient, one day at a time.