Tag Archives: Nurses on the Run

A Shout-out to Books, Libraries, and Dolly Parton

More than two years have passed since I left hospital nursing. The words I penned in my farewell note to my obstetrics colleagues, some of whom I’d worked alongside for nearly twenty-two years, were bittersweet. I’m replacing the magic of birth with the magic of books.

Since then, I haven’t looked back. I now have the pleasure of working with two exceptional teacher-librarians at Hellgate High School.

Teacher-librarian Julie Burckhard assists Evan with a scan
Teacher-librarian Julie Burckhard assists Evan with a scan
English teacher Jean Croxton collaborates with teacher-librarian Shaun Gant.
English teacher Jean Croxton collaborates with teacher-librarian Shaun Gant

Daily, I’m touched by interactions with students and staff. Students’ impassioned “you have to read this!” recommendations have introduced me to books I would not have chosen on my own. I’ve had occasion to suggest books as well, not only the gut-wrenching, realistic fiction I gravitate toward, but other genres too. Along the way, some students have confided heartbreaking experiences of their own.

Others have shared their interests and aspirations. Months ago I asked a student her last name in order to loan her a book. I’d remembered her first name, but had to clear out some of the nursing stuff in my memory bank to make room for more names, I explained.

“You were a nurse?” she said, not waiting for a response. “Was it worth it? I want to be a nurse.”

“It was.” We chatted about nursing as we walked to the stacks, to a collection of stories by nurses.

Hellgate High School stacks
Hellgate High School stacks
Nurses on the Run: Why They Come, Why They Stay
Nurses on the Run: Why They Come, Why They Stay

Flipping through the pages of my book she said, “I’ll have to read this,” then told me she’d read it later. As we returned to the front, she said again, “I want to be a nurse. I want to do something important.”

I told her that was great, that we need more nurses. I told her I’d been at hundreds of births, which had been important, “but sharing books is important, too.”

She shot me a quizzical look, unconvinced.

I’ve seen her several times since, and she’s borrowed a number of books. She hasn’t read my nursing book yet, but I hope she will. And if she does choose to become a nurse, I know she’ll be an asset to the profession.

She, and others, continue to affirm my conviction that libraries and books are two of our most precious resources. Thanks to United Way of Missoula  County and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the youngest among us—from birth to age five—may now begin building libraries of their own.

“Dolly grew up in abject poverty in Tennessee, as many of you know, but she always believed the world of books opened up life for her.” United Way of Missoula County CEO Susan Hay Patrick

Dolly Parton is a believer. I am too. We know that magic happens. In books. In libraries. And in life.

Nursing and Books

I have loved books for as long as I can remember. And for almost as long, I have been fascinated with the world of nursing. My mother sparked my interest with her stories when I was a young girl. Later, countless Cherry Ames books fueled my desire to become a nurse. As did my candy striping days. I felt important beyond measure when I walked past the bold-lettered sign at Saint James Hospital: NO VISITORS UNDER THE AGE OF SIXTEEN and knew that, though only fourteen, I had a job to do.

Fast forward to 2012. I’m an OB nurse, I would say. And a writer, I added in recent years.

The former has ended. The latter has not. Less than three weeks have passed since my exit interview for the nursing job I held for nearly twenty-one years. It felt bittersweet as I walked into Community Medical Center to offer parting words that day. Bittersweet, knowing I would be replacing the wonder of birth with the wonder of books.

I said goodbye to my old website this month, too, as library books and You Tube videos taught me about WordPress. Looking at the photos our older son, Eric, helped me stage for my website years ago induced pensive feelings. Those photos captured much of my and my mother’s essence. And though neither of us is practicing right now, we will always be nurses.

So I share the photo that graced my website for six years and helped garner stories for Nurses on the Run.

Karen Buley memorabilia

I share one of our alternates, too. It’s a poignant reminder of the boxes of childhood books my parents moved on my behalf. Not once, but twice.

Karen Buley memorabilia2