travel nursing

By Name

Poor, poor John Travolta. Butcher one name at the Oscars a week ago, and the internet explodes. I’m sure the YouTube views is in the millions. There’s even a widget to create your own John Travolta-fied name here.

The funny thing is, the name generator thing gave me the first name I hear from people ALL THE TIME. Marissa is a little weird. I get it. It’s not the most common “M” name in the world, but it sounds very similar to “Melissa,” a more common “M” name. So, I don’t get my name all the time. I’m so used to hearing not my name that it doesn’t phase me. I can spell my name faster aloud than I can think it. It’s that routine for me.

But I learned just how great being called by name can be on my last shift at work.

My last night at my first nursing job was Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. My co-workers said some very sweet things and gave some quality hugs. I started out Tuesday night on a high note.

Wednesday morning was rough. The chief resident has what one of my co-workers called “short girl syndrome” where there seems to be an insatiable need to be in control. The first-year interns on service started their day being loudly berated in the hallway for not having specific orders and tests done for the morning. I heard “unacceptable” about 5 times, and I was in and out of patient rooms.

Now, I don’t know the exact circumstances, but I do know the chief was on a rampage of some sort. The ridiculous amount of pooping agents ordered for every patient on service was some indication.

The chief came out of my patient’s room. “Why is the knee immobilizer off?” She was staring straight at me. “Significant other was adamant to have it off, so I took it off.”“Significant other is not an authority on that, and that is not a valid excuse. Knee immobilizer is ordered to stay on at all times. That knee needs to stay straight.” And she walked away.

I felt so small as I went into that patient’s room a minute later. A  group of residents and medical students from another service were swarming around the patient’s knee that needed to stay straight (or else!). A first-year intern who had just rotated through my unit’s primary service was in the group. I directed residents and medical students toward various supplies in the room, and as they left, that first-year intern said, “Thanks,  Marissa.”

It’s so mundane, and small, and almost silly, but being acknowledged by my properly pronounced name was incredibly validating. That, and being told by the pair of first-year interns on the mean chief’s service that I was “better than Google” as I explained the difference between various rectal tubes. (I told you that service is on some sort of poop rampage!).

Our names matter. Being called by name shows we are valued, dignified, in the eyes of the speaker. Not getting that can make us feel unimportant, little, and small.

I think in the life of every person, we question if we’re  important. Some people are so determined to be important that they have vain aspirations for power and control, but I think most people realize they’re not inherently all that important, and that’s OK. Seriously, in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter what you’re wearing, ate for breakfast, or how you’re feeling? NO. The earth is still moving, so should we, yes?

Not quite. As it is written in Isaiah 43:1 “I have called you by name: you are mine.” We may be one in 9 billion or whatever the population of Earth is these days, but we are not unimportant. We are called by name, by properly pronounced name, to become the best version of ourselves that we can be.

One co-worker, the sweet unit clerk I’ve worked with since I started, told me, “I loved you from the minute I met you. I knew you’d become a great nurse.”

How much is God our Father like that? He loves us, even before our mothers and fathers meet us. He knows we’re capable of becoming great nurses, doctors, writers, computer technicians, sanitation specialists, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, nephews, nieces, leaders, etc, etc. He knows we are more than any one of those titles, however, because he knows us by name.

It never hit me how much being called my name could make a difference until my last night. I’m so blessed that have been surrounded by a group who sincerely wanted to know not just my name, but also who I am.

I’m going to miss them so much, but I’m excited to start this travel nursing adventure and meet more people. I hope I don’t butcher too many names!

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