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5 Takeaways from Carolyn Jones' "The American Nurse" Documentary

Carolyn Jones’ The American Nurse is a groundbreaking documentary that shines a light on some of the country’s hardest working professionals. It premiered to sold out crowds across the country during National Nurses’ Week. Key lessons like the ones below have fans talking long after the final credits roll.

Both Men and Women Are Embracing Nursing


Image via Flickr by *King of the Ants*

The American Nurse reflects the modern face of nursing, an industry that is no longer an exclusively female domain. Three of the five nurses it profiles identify as men. Jason Short and Brian McMillion are every bit as caring and compassionate as their female peers. Sister Stephen Bloesl, a transsexual nurse transitioning from female to male, further highlights the wide spectrum of gender identity represented in the modern nursing community.

Hospitals Aren’t the Only Places You’ll See Nurses
While many American nurses are employed by hospitals, Jones’ film shows the diversity of the profession. Tonia Faust runs the hospice of a Louisiana State Penitentiary, extending her care to the country’s most hardened criminals. Bloesl heads a unique nursing home where residents take comfort in the companionship of small farm animals. Short is a home health nurse, who is seen dramatically navigating flooded waters to tend to locals.

All Humans Are Worthy of Care
Faust’s story teaches viewers one of the most important lessons in the film: we are all worthy of care. “People ask me how I can take care of people who have committed such horrific crimes,” she says. “But when I’m at their bedside, I’m taking care of just another human being.”

It’s easy to understand caring for an ovarian cancer survivor giving birth to her first child or a military veteran who has served the country nobly. At face value, these citizens seem somehow more worthy of our time. Through Faust, however, viewers are encouraged to leave their prejudices at the door and see the humanity in the sick inmates of her maximum security prison.

You Can Find Grace in the Most Unlikely of Places
Nursing isn’t a glamorous profession, but The American Nurse highlights that grace can be found in unlikely places. Viewers observe it in the fragile skin of newborns and the elderly. It’s in the connection a man who lost two limbs in battle makes with his nurse, a former veteran. It’s in a prison inmate who discovers a new purpose volunteering in the facility’s hospice. It’s even in the beauty of a woman taking her last breath as she’s serenaded by volunteer nursing staff. The camera lingers on each moment, ensuring the audience doesn’t miss this vital takeaway.

The Human Touch Is Still So Important
Revolutionary drugs and high-tech medical machines hit the headlines so often that we sometimes forget the importance of the human element of healthcare. “Technology is a miraculous thing and saves our lives, but we have forgotten that someone has to get you and your family through it,” Jones told ABC NewsThe American Nurse reinforces this message.

Carolyn Jones’ documentary masterpiece The American Nurse has much to teach the world about the nursing profession and humanity itself.

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