Recently, my husband and I attended a friend's eightieth birthday celebration. We didn't know many of the guests, but I found a semi-vacant table and claimed two seats next to two women.
We introduced ourselves, and I proceeded to the appetizer table. My husband was off taking photos of the celebrant and her family. Soon the table was full. The celebrant's husband came by to greet us and remarked that it was quite something to see four nurses sitting together! Only the two who came together knew this about each other.
The two flanking their sides (the forth woman and myself) had no idea. Together, we had over 150 years of experience in the field; two retired from occupational health and administrative and quality work, respectively; the other two of us still working, in oncology (myself) and perioperative care. We talked of shared circles of wisdom, possible overlap in work settings, changes in healthcare, and the joy we found in the work of our profession.
I was reminded of the many times I have traveled to the Oncology Nursing Society congress and met other nurses at the airport as we stood waiting for a shuttle, a taxi, or our luggage. Often, I would end up sharing a ride with my newly-found connection, perhaps never to meet again, but still, a short connection of something and someone familiar.
One of us would usually comment on the synchronicity of the meeting. Odds were probably high that we would meet another nurse on those occasions. Yet it still seemed an interesting phenomenon that we somehow connected with another nurse. What gave it away? Was there some type of look we have about ourselves? A way of carrying ourselves in the world? A vulnerability? Or something else that nurses just recognize in each other? I have often pondered this.
So this evening on a birthday celebration, four nurses sat together. It was comfortable and easy; no need to share battle stories, to tell each other of our aches and pains, or to get advice. I felt proud to be there with these other three. No reason except they were and are my colleagues.
When have you unexpectedly found yourself in the company of other nurses? Or other healthcare professionals? What do you think draws us together?