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I called his name to get his attention and told him his dad was looking for him. As I moved closer and introduced myself, the 6-year-old eyed me warily. His koala ski helmet was a sure give-away that he was the child we'd been searching for.
He'd been separated from his father for over 2 hours at a busy ski area. You'd think he'd be more than ready and willing to let me, a ski patroller in uniform, reunite him with his dad. Trying to gain his trust, I smiled and offered, "I really like your koala bear helmet." With righteous indignation he declared, "A koala is not a bear."
Clearly this was a sentinel moment. There was only one correct response to a statement like that-and fortunately it just popped out of my mouth. "No it's not. A koala is a marsupial."
That's all it took. His expression softened. I'd passed his test. Because I was now a worthy human being who could hold my own in a marsupial discussion, he granted me the privilege of escorting him to his dad.
I'm not sure when I learned that a koala is a marsupial-or even why I could somehow bring that tidbit forward at the opportune time. Whatever the reason, it made the difference for this young boy. The episode inspired me to reflect on the value of having a diverse knowledge base as a nurse.
So often I hear students of all ages and backgrounds complain, "Why do I need to know this stuff ? I'll never use it again," whenever subject matter appears to have no immediate relevance. Why limit ourselves by placing boundaries around knowledge? You never know when you'll need to draw upon that knowledge to make a positive impact on someone's life.
There's value in a liberal arts education to enrich nursing practice. When we commit to being lifelong learners, we renew ourselves and evolve as individuals. The tapestry of our thought process becomes richer and more complex. We can view challenges from different angles and consider fresh and creative approaches.
This New Year, make a resolution to take a class or learn about something outside of your typical healthcare realm. Allow your mind to expand beyond its current reality and see the world through a new lens.
Until next time-
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2011 Vice President: Emergency and Trauma Services, Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.
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