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May 10

Happy Nurses’ Week: Part 2!

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Dr. Marion Allen and me!

In the spirit of the week, I will continue to reflect on those nurses, those teachers that “lit the path” for me.  Dr. Marion Allen, an extraordinary nurse, a brilliant scholar and wise friend was my guide through my doctoral program. Marion’s twin gifts were patience, and strength. As I reflect on the whole experience as a doctoral student…you know… there are moments when you think you have just discovered or revealed something brilliant…something really extraordinary. For me, that “brilliant” insight usually translated into excited, exuberant (and really verbose) sessions with Marion listening, and me expounding upon the idea—usually at some length (and it generally involved lots of arm gestures and pacing as well). Instead of doing anything to dampen the moment, she would most often share my excitement and pronounce upon it her highest compliment: “Cool…really cool!” Then later, much later, when the idea was no longer newborn and fragile, we would return to it and tug at it together, stretching it out to all its logical limits, connecting it to the knowledge base of nursing “so let’s talk about how this relates to the object of nursing…” In her patience resided the true brilliance. Now THAT was cool Marion, really cool!

Marion’s strength is that kind of strength that has nothing to prove—it just is. Doctoral education, like all human endeavors that involve more than one person, has its own special set of politics. There are sensitivities about a myriad of things: funding, committees, publication etiquette, and on and on. There I was, ostensibly developing a body of work around “advocacy”, mostly blissfully unaware that the real advocacy, in the moment, was happening on my behalf, with Marion working in the background helping me to stickhandle any politics that may turn into obstacles. She did this with such diplomacy and grace that her “hand” was never visible, only her fingerprints. Thank you Marion—your way of being taught me as much as your way of teaching.

Today, I was grateful for a moment to think about that.

Once again, Happy Nurses’ Week dear colleagues!

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