CREDOS: My calling

Val Gokenbach

My journey to nursing was not so altruistic. I wanted to be a dancer. A friend convinced me that if I took a couple of years off from dancing to obtain my nursing degree, I could have a good job between shows and I wouldn’t have to wait tables like other striving artistes. But when I began working as a nurse, my life was transformed.

Nurses cared about people, whereby most performers cared about themselves and their next job. I knew that I would never leave nursing to dance again when I began working in critical care as a new nurse.

I received the call from the emergency department that we were getting a level-one trauma patient. She was ejected out the front window, under the car, which then exploded. Her skull was crushed.

Soon after surgery, brain activity ceased. About two weeks into the ordeal, she began to flutter her eyelashes. We were amazed and cautiously hopeful.

When I returned the next morning, I learned that she was successfully resuscitated. The gratitude in the eyes of her mom was enough satisfaction to last a lifetime and validate

that I was where I needed to be in my life.

I have since moved on in my career to become the chief nursing officer of the largest hospital. I have made it my goal in life to make sure that all nurses realise how valuable they are to the lives of others. There are a privileged few who can say, “I am a nurse.” It’s the greatest performance of my life.