As an individual who holds himself to a high professional standard, I have grown to recognize three distinctive qualities that I believe every great nurse should possess: compassion, integrity, and perseverance.

Compassion is not merely the sympathy you show toward a friend or family member in need, but rather the empathy that drives you to act on an inner desire to help those around you. In the summer of 2008, I was fortunate to take part in a medical mission trip overseas serving the underserved populations in the Philippines. During my time abroad, I was inspired by the amount of compassion the nurses and medical staff exemplified in the clinical setting. As a volunteer, I was astonished not only by the sheer magnitude of homelessness that has stricken the country, but also by the positive impact that I was making on a daily basis. By allowing myself to be immersed in the service of others, I have grown to appreciate the many blessings that God has given me, and develop an unyielding compassion toward others that I believe is essential in today’s rapidly growing society.

The second quality that I believe a great nurse must possess is integrity. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. During my tenure as an emergency room nurse, I was assigned to care for a little girl complaining of a headache. The father confided in me that her symptoms began after she was inadvertently hit in the head with a soccer ball. The medical doctor on staff quickly dismissed the girl as having a “minor headache” and told the father that ice and rest was all that she required. As a nurse of integrity, I did not feel comfortable sending the little girl home after she confided in me that she never had a headache this painful before. Seeing her grimace in pain, I urgently requested the doctor to have a computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan prepared for the patient. Despite the doctor’s initial objection and reluctance, he finally agreed, and upon evaluation of the final results, we discovered a small intracranial hemorrhage that was beginning to form. Seeing the tears of gratitude the father displayed allowed me to recognize the importance of doing the right thing even in the midst of adversity. It was this realization that has continued to fuel my innate desire to remain truthful and transparent in all aspects of my nursing care while fostering the deep interpersonal relationships that I form with my patients.

Lastly, the quality of perseverance plays a vital role in determining an excellent nurse. When I first began nursing school, I was completely unprepared for the academic expectations that were required of me. Due to my immaturity, my grades suffered immensely during the early stages of my academic career and I was humiliated and rejected from numerous nursing schools. Despite the constant vilification and dejection that seemed to surround me during this tremendously dark period of my life, I remained optimistic knowing that I had a purpose in this world. Within the next couple of months, I decided to make a conscientious effort to become more academically driven and was eventually accepted into West Coast University’s nursing program where I excelled scholastically, receiving numerous awards such as the Perennial Dean’s List, the Kaiser Permanente RN Scholarship, and ultimately culminating to my successful graduation in 2013.

As I look back on what I have accomplished over the years, I feel extremely blessed to have been surrounded by amazing individuals who inspired me to be the nurse that I am today. And it is because of this realization that I have come to recognize that being a great nurse is not measured by how intelligent you are but rather your commitment to providing indelible and compassionate care to those who seek it.

Jonathan V. Llamas, DNP (c), BSN, RN-BC, PHN

Jonathan V. Llamas, DNP (c), BSN, RN-BC, PHN, is an ANCC board certified registered nurse and freelance writer from Los Angeles, CA. He received his BSN degree from West Coast University - North Hollywood in 2013 and is currently pursuing his DNP degree at Loma Linda University to become a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. In addition to this, he currently functions as an acute psychiatric registered nurse at Kaiser Permanenete - Los Angeles with previous inpatient experience in both the ER and ICU settings.
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