We recently buried my uncle. He was always a great guy and a terrific uncle to me. He had cancer, but we never knew what kind because he refused to have a biopsy. The family assumes that it was prostate or lung cancer.

He spent a few weeks in a VA hospice facility, which was a wonderful experience for him. I visited him several times while he was in the hospice center. I couldn't help but think and feel in nurse-mode. I wanted to take away his pain and help him pass peacefully. I tried to ask him about his pain several times, and I got answers like: "Oh, everyone has some pain don't they?" and "Yeah, it hurts here and there." It was so frustrating to me because as an oncology/hospice nurse, I needed to fix him or at the very least take away his pain.

It took me a few visits to realize that he would not talk to me about these things. One day I looked at him as he was talking, and he really looked at me; he was still looking at me like he did when I was a little girl. That's when it hit me; this was my uncle not my patient. I am always on nursing duty. When visiting a friend or family member in the hospital, I check the IV bags. When my husband has indigestion that he describes as chest pain, I jump into action and assess his pain with questions like how does the pain feel? Does the pain radiate? You know what I am talking about; I can't be the only nurse like this out there.

It's hardest when it's a family member or someone close. We cannot be objective. The problem needs to be fixed now because we have the tools. I think this is one reason why the nursing profession is so hard—we are always on call. How do you separate your nursing profession from your personal life? Do we have to separate them? I think the nursing side of me makes me who I am, and I am proud to tell people that I am a nurse.