When Truth Is Staring You in the Face

Tasha Morris sent me a message a few weeks ago and I post a portion of it below. She told me I could share it, no problem. We studied Social Justice in spring 2007 at SLU.


What I am studying now is officially titled as Master’s of Nursing– Nurse Educator. A prestigious title for a little country girl, even if the importance of such is usually lost. I continually try to explain this decision to the members of the small Missouri community from whence I hail, which is no easy task. I have been asked a million times why I did not choose to be a doctor or a nurse practitioner, or a lawyer, or a politician…. These are the “important” callings that my friends and family can relate to. Truth be known, even when I studied under you, I WAS a premedical student.

Then, one day five years ago, we were given a simple but profound task. To shadow a doctor for five days. I watched the doctor I followed, a good woman and a leader in her own right, try to shove bites of salad in between phone calls and red tape. Eventually, her salad turned into the equivalent of a tired laborer and bore no resemblance to its original self. She threw it away and went back to work.

Little did she know, she tossed my ambitions along with that salad. I thought to myself that hers was no life to be lived, not sustainable or rewarding. Not that I don’t respect doctors, because I do. With every ounce of my being, I do. I respect, rely upon, and honor their practice.

But I watched time and again as they “saved” people who had no idea how much they needed to be saved. How truly pivotal their decisions were from that point on. It’s amazing to watch someone be intubated, sedated, restrained, and recovered…. only to be discharged and left to figure what’s next. These same people I worked with outside the hospital, only to discover they did not so much as know that sodium and salt were the same thing… no wonder we kept “saving” them time and time again!

And the frustration and loss of faith the doctors and nurses direct towards these people–simultaneously understandable and yet unwarranted–shook me to the core. More than losing someone after a long battle to preserve them. More than sitting and crying with their family after. More than anything I ever imagined.

Now, I am ever faced with the irony of my studies. I, myself, being the embodiment of an awkward child grown into an uncertain but wholly adult body! I am supposed to teach these people the intangible? Teach them compassion and know-how? How odd! So, I teach them what I do know. And what I know, more often that not, is that not everyone is so blessed to know what we do. And so I’ve started, though it shakes me to my core, teaching about community health.

And the students, they are so eager to learn! I never realized, perhaps because I took solace among the less privileged (and less educated, as I was public school kid in a private school world) students while I was at SLU.

I have never been much of a speaker or writer, and there are few things more unnerving (in my opinion, at least) than watching/reading oneself try, but I have enjoyed trying nonetheless.

I truly appreciate the way you have reached out to me, so warmly as if no time had passed at all, over the last few days! It gives me courage that perhaps there is a teacher or mentor somewhere within me. I can only hope it is so and continue to live according to my values and in a way that furthers the causes in which I believe.


Tasha Morris

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