Mind/Body/Spirit

From our readers…The Dance

Linda Harrington, RNC, works in Labor and Delivery at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, Mission Hills, CA. Below she comments on her experience with writing this poem:

When the CNO asked me if I could “come up with something” to submit to the Magnet Art Gallery my first thought was,

“Are you kidding me? No way, I am buried in projects, not a chance.”

Then my ears heard me respond, “Absolutely, happy to do it.”

I need to work on that apparent cerebral disconnect.

I am pretty sure she was expecting an art piece, so I waited for inspiration.


While waiting….life at the bedside continued.

Driving home after a ridiculously busy day, I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear view mirror.

I was grinning.

How could I be smiling after the chaotic shift I just completed?

Had I lost my mind during the day’s events?

I attempted to make sense of my facial manifestation?

Reflection offered an explanation and evoked the heart of this poem.

Magnet worthy inspiration had occurred.

I hoped that the essence of what was written would resonate for nurses and remind them of the growth they experience during their career and the beautiful gratification that is found in nursing.”

The Dance

Linda Harrington, RNC

I am a new grad.
Fear and anxiety are my constant companions.
I am often on the brink of tears: my feelings of inadequacy are overwhelming at times.
I am positive that I learned nothing in nursing school.
I am filled with doubt.
The nurses around me are moving to music I cannot hear.
Gracefully and efficiently they complete their tasks
I watch this ballet of competency fearing I will never learn the dance.
For now, I will mimic the steps as best I can.

Time passes….

A metamorphosis occurs.
Experience dispels the uncertainty I once felt.
I realize it was not expected that I feel comfortable.
A novice never does.
Mentors emerge; acting as choreographers, they demonstrate the intricacies of the dance.
They insist on perfection and practice.
They move aside when they are sure I’ve learned the steps.
I’m beginning to hear the music.
Humming the melody, I join the dance.

Time passes….

The music has become a symphony and I dance with confidence.
Proficient and specialized, I am considered an expert now.
I thrive on the complexities of this Art Form called Nursing.
As a mentor I seek center stage; I share my skills, I teach.
Knowledge is handed down and passed on.
As the performance continues, so too, does the expertise of the dancers.
This evolution of excellence cannot be stopped.

Time passes….

I’ve been dancing for a long time now.
On some days the music is faint or even mute.
Perhaps it’s time to leave the theater.
I close my eyes and can’t help wondering why I still do this.
I decide to relax and take refuge in the silence.

The brief intermission is interrupted by a request for help.
An anxious new grad has a question about her patient’s deteriorating status.
We discuss theory and collaborate on a new strategy.
Without missing a step, the dance continues.

The novice nurse takes action and the patient’s condition improves.

The patient senses relief and whispers, “Thank you.”

The novice smiles, a new skill has restored her confidence, gratitude has restored her spirit.
I walk away feeling fortunate to have been a part of this magical exchange.

I didn’t notice exactly when it resumed, but I hear the music again.

The rewards of the moment remind me why I still do this…
I’m addicted to the music….
….I love the Dance.

Copyright &#169 Linda Harrington, RNC, Reprinted with Permission.

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10 thoughts on “From our readers…The Dance”

  1. Leah says:

    I love the poem. I think every nurse has been in those shoes. I am a novice nurse and have had the oportunity to precept many new nurses over the years and the feelings are heartfelt. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Farmgirl71 says:

    Lovely!

  3. Anonymous says:

    loved it. thanks for capturing the magical moments of nursing. may keep dancing

  4. KBrown says:

    I am currently teaching and know that the students can’t here the music yet but they are starting to here the melody.
    Beautiful Poem

  5. celeste says:

    Lovely poem and it says it so nice about our years in nursing. I forward it to my daughter who is a novice but it helped me fell better about my nursing when I am just so worn out.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful poem, it resounded in my nursing heart….my daughter is graduating in May with her ADN, she will be glad to read this!

  7. Dawn says:

    Beautiful poem! Thank you for sharing in our dance 🙂

  8. Anonymous says:

    Love your poem. I have been dancing for years and your poem captures the whole recital.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You forgot to add the last stanza.
    Time passes
    I no long have the strength for the dance
    but I remember all the steps
    I will carry it with me forever
    I am so proud to be a nurse.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I saw this poem at the Magnet conference and was touched by how beautifully it describes our practice! Thank you for describing our career so well.

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