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Are Nurses Best Defined as Dolphins?

Andrea Kutcher '17
Andrea Kutcher, BS ’17, delivered a passionate graduation speech during the pinning recognition ceremony held June 17. Her eloquent presentation was awash with humor, insight, intellect, and—of course—dolphins.

Andrea Kutcher, BS ’17, delivered a passionate graduation speech during the pinning recognition ceremony held June 17. Her eloquent presentation was awash with humor, insight, intellect, and—of course—dolphins.

“A nurse is an advocate, a leader, a caretaker, a scientist, a researcher, an educator, and a friend,” Kutcher told the audience of more than 500 who had gathered to celebrate the graduating class of 2017. “But there is one word, actually an animal, that really showcases and encompasses the entirety of what a nurse embodies and that is a dolphin.”

Kutcher was quick to admit there are differences between dolphins and nurses, which evoked laughter from the audience. “When you pet a dolphin it feels smooth like a hot dog. Nurses, and nursing students, on the other hand have used so much hand sanitizer and have washed our hands so many times that our skin is as dry as the desert on a hot day.  Dolphins use echolocation to navigate their way through the open sea. Nurses, although they cannot echolocate, instead have hypersensitive ears that permits them to hear their IV pump going off even if they’re 10 rooms away.”

Becoming more serious, Kutcher explained, “Here is where I make my point. Dolphins are comparable to nurses because of their altruistic tendencies. No other animal has been seen to intrinsically care for other animals as often as the dolphin.”

Kutcher went on to recall an instance in 2013 in which a young seal floated into dangerously shallow water only to be guided to safety by a group of dolphins. Much like a dolphin, Kutcher implied, nursing students take on the responsibility of others’ wellbeing. “We care for others,” she said, “not to better our self-image, not to be the model citizen, not to impress others.”

Throughout, Kutcher acknowledged that those in nursing school actively seek opportunity to act altruistically; they do not sit by the shore waiting for a young seal to be in danger, they take steps toward opportunity.  “This is why we have endured hundreds of clinical hours in the hospital; this is why we have spent days memorizing pathophysiologies and medications and their side effects and contraindications,” she explained to those unfamiliar with the rigors of nursing school.

As Kutcher’s speech suggests, doing good takes effort. Mahtab Jafari, the executive speaker for the Health Sciences Commencement Ceremony, echoed this sentiment during her presentation when she urged all in attendance to perform an altruistic act each day, something as simple as calling a friend. Jafari insisted that we treat each other gently and with care despite our differences, acknowledging, “we all have the same DNA.”

The 2017 commencement ceremony of Health Sciences began with nearly 1,000 attendees on their feet as nursing school graduate Katharina Miyoshi, ’17, sang the national anthem. Her lyrics reminding those in attendance that although these students wear the same gowns and have similar professional vocations, they are a collection of individuals with different backgrounds, talents, and identities. Some may be singers like Miyoshi, some may be immigrants like Jafari, but they are all, as only Kutcher could say, dolphins.

“Just like dolphins,” concluded Kutcher, “we have open sea at our footsteps waiting to be discovered and explored. We are the best they have ever seen. Give it up for the Class of 2017.”