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Nursing is Bigger on the Inside



I love Doctor Who.  For anyone that is not familiar with this British television program, the basic premise is as follows.  There is a cool alien that looks human, but regenerates every few season to look like the next actor to play him.  This alien is called the ‘Doctor’ because no one can know his real name.  The Doctor is a time lord from a planet called Gallifrey and he travels in what looks like an old police call box, much like a telephone booth.  This police box, the TARDIS, takes the Doctor anywhere in time and space, but that is not the only amazing thing about the it.  The TARDIS is bigger on the inside.  We don’t know how big, but imagine the Star Trek Enterprise stuffed into a telephone booth and you get close. 

Nursing is like the TARDIS.  

People think they know about nursing.  The public only sees the outside. They see that nurses work 3 days a week and are paid well. They see that nursing is not a glamorous job. They see smiling faces and skilled hands.  

Nursing is bigger on the inside. 


A lot of nurses look cute in scrubs, but even those scrubs lose their appeal when they are covered in various bodily fluids.  I am frequently told by family, friends and random strangers that they could never be a nurse.  I get it.  Nursing is not for everyone.  

Some of us do work 3 shifts a week.  Those 12 hour shifts stretch into 14 or 15 hour days when you add in lunch, report, extra charting and commute time.  The majority of nurses that I have known work much more than 36 hours a week.  

For the most part nurses can at least fake a good mood and do their best to smile.  Smiling and chatting with patients they perform the technical skills that keep patients safe and comfortable.  

Nurses need to be smart, caring, brave, strong willed, strong stomached and have a sense of humor.  We see the worst and best of humanity in our work.  We are happy when our patients do well and cry when they are not.  Nurses monitor, clean, feed, medicate, assess, educate, entertain, console, listen, advocate for and document about patients day and night.  After doctors, therapists, family, friends and even dietary leave for the night, nurses remain at the bedside.  

Caring for patients is rewarding, gratifying and exhausting.  To be trusted to such a degree by a stranger is an honor.  Helping people meet health goals or guiding them through milestones is an amazing feeling.  Even when our patients pass away, helping the patient and family through the process is fulfilling.  

Nursing is much bigger on the inside.  It is easy to get lost in charting, policy reviews and quality audits and forget the art of nursing.  Nurses need to be reminded of the amazing impact that we have on peoples lives.  Nurses not only impact health at the bedside, but have the power to transform healthcare practice.  


Take time to remember how big nursing is and why you do it. Energize and renew your yourself at the Art of Nursing 2.0 event from anywhere in the world.  



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This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at Find out how to participate.

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8 thoughts on “Nursing is Bigger on the Inside

  1. Carrie, I love this article! Your post screams nursing pride and I love how you remind us that nursing is about compassion and care. It’s about more than the 12 hour shift and you share with us the very notion that nurses also need to be brave, strong willed, strong stomached and have a great sense of humor. Thank you for contributing to the blog carnival; I appreciate it very much.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I love the blog carnival!

  2. Wonderful post, Carrie. I agree that we do need to be reminded of the amazing impact we have on others. What a privilege, right? And what if we can grow to appreciate this for ourselves and each other? You inspire me to wonder how we can help remind each other about this impact. For instance, tell me a story about an important or inspiring role you played with a patient. I wonder if I could simply listen and say ‘Wow, Carrie. Great job. I’m proud of you and our profession!

    1. Thanks Beth!

  3. Carrie, I love a good metaphor. What a tremendous metaphor stuffed magically into that one little word: Tardis. Genius! Apt, too: nursing remains, to the public, both familiar like an old phone booth, yet deeply mysterious as well. So much magic and power hidden away… Great job!

    1. Greg, I appreciate someone that gets a doctor who analogy. 🙂

  4. Hi Carrie,
    I agree, many times as nurses we get distracted with the demands of healthcare that we forget the core ingredient of our profession, the art of nursing. Just as you compared people not understanding the dimensions of the TARDIS police box in TV’s Doctor Who program, the dimensions of nursing are too far and wide to comprehend as an outsider, as well. I also think that many patients feel this same way when they access healthcare in times of crisis. That’s when the beauty of nursing can shine! We incorporate compassion and leadership to direct patients needing to understand the multi-dimensional mystery in the various aspects of their individual healthcare needs.

    As we focus on giving of ourselves through the art of nursing, let’s not forget to nurture and rejuvenate ourselves, as well. I’m looking forward to celebrating Nurses Week 2015 with all the other nurses and pro-nursing organizations participating in this year’s Art of Nursing 2.0 Virtual CEO Conference during Nurses Week 2015. See you there!

  5. What a great read! You had me at tardis 🙂 Good reminder to gain perspective and get back in touch with our purpose when tasks and people (even patients!) get in the way.

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