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Serving, but not subservient. (From Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses).

The world is ever changing. Health care has become an industry, and many facilities are for-profit based. The dollar is the bottom line, sometimes at the expense of quality. Nurses who work in these settings provide nursing care, and patients come to the hospital to receive care that only professional nurses can give. Medical-surgical nurses know what it means to give more than 100%. "A person's life is not measured by what is accumulated, but by what is given away" (Gerber, 1998).

When we chose nursing as a profession, we decided on a life that is dedicated to serving others. Our profession is one of service, and we all knew that at the beginning. There is great significance found in serving others. When you give, you get so much more. It is true that it's better to give than it is to receive. Our profession is service driven; we serve others, including our patients, their families, and our communities. We also serve our organization by volunteering. We are here to serve and not to be served. It takes a great deal of courage to work in nursing today, especially in medical-surgical nursing. As medical-surgical nurses, we have been hit hard with the nursing shortage. Our patients are well-educated consumers of health care, they ask very intelligent questions, and they expect a great deal from us.

Everybody Can Be Great ...

However, to serve in our profession does not mean to be subservient to others. Nor does it make you less, but instead, it makes you more. Each of us gets a return on our investment in a nursing career, because there is no greater reward then being a part of someone's healing. When we see the efforts of our labor restore the health of those who are sick, then we understand why we chose to be nurses. We receive gratitude that may not be with words of thanks. "Real gratitude leads us to actions on behalf of others. It leads to servanthood" (Gerber, 1998).

Servanthood influences who we are and what we do. "Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree. To serve, you only need a heart full of grace" (Martin Luther King, Jr.). A heart full of grace for nurses means that we will give compassionate care to our patients and their families. When we serve, our motivation should not be, "What is in it for me?" True servanthood is a selfless act of passion, and this is at the very center of nursing. Serving others should not be viewed as a stepping stone to greater power and position. As medical-surgical nurses, we are truly passionate about what we do daily. The work we do is very challenging, because we care for the adult patient population. We will continue to have more challenges because of the "graying of America." More people are living longer, and soon many individuals will need access to health care. Nurses everywhere must be prepared for patients with multiple complex chronic illnesses. AMSN is dedicated to the care of the elderly. We have made a commitment to promote geriatric issues as a part of our strategic plan, and AMSN will provide a minimum of one session at the annual convention each year specifically related to geriatrics.

AMSN submitted and recently received a grant provided by Nurse Competence in Aging, a 5-year initiative funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies (USA) Inc., awarded to the American Nurses Association (ANA) through the American Nurses Foundation (ANF), and representing a strategic alliance between ANA, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), and the John A. Hartford Foundation Institute for Geriatric Nursing, New York University, The Steinhardt School of Education, Division of Nursing. This grant will be specifically used to provide geriatric education for AMSN members in various forms. We are proud of our accomplishments relating to geriatrics.

... Because Anybody Can Serve

The AMSN Board of Directors is here to serve. We are all volunteers, and we are the leaders who have been elected by the AMSN membership. We serve our constituents who trust us to make appropriate decisions for the good of the entire organization. Any of you can serve AMSN. We are always looking for those who are willing to volunteer, because as leaders, you can make a difference in the health of your adult patients. When you volunteer to serve, you will have a very meaningful experience. You will develop your leadership skills, and you will grow personally and professionally. Now is the time to rise to the challenge when you see a call for committee members, a call for nominations, or when you go on-line and see the intent to serve form. Answer the call by making that commitment. You'll be glad you did! This is another way of giving back to your profession and showing that you can make a difference. When you volunteer, you can shape the future of health care, and you can be an initiator of change. Never say to yourself, "What can I do?", but instead have a "can-do" attitude. You will surprise yourself by what you can accomplish! You have the potential to be great.

Serving others is rewarding. Nurses give tirelessly because we have compassion and are passionate about what we do and whom we serve. We serve with excellence, and we are dedicated professionals. We serve others, but we are not subservient. We are educated and respected members of the health care team. We are the unsung heroes of our time. "True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever the cost" (Arthur Ash). Be serving!


Gerber, W. (1998). Gratitude to servanthood. Retrieved June 5, 2003, from
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Author:Greggs-McQuilkin, Doris
Publication:MedSurg Nursing
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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