Nursing students at Indiana University are notoriously never seen, but when they are they're usually dressed in scrubs running to their next class, or shift at the hospital. Last week I caught one of these rare students and talked to senior Peri Kane about her experience studying her ass of as a freshman to make it into the prestigious nursing program, and what it's like to be a 21-year-old hospice nurse.
It takes a special kind of soul wrapped in tomato-red scrubs to keep spirits high in the face of death. Surprisingly, Ms. Kane hasn’t yet felt the emotional fatigue that often comes with working at a hospice house; in fact, she finds it comforting.
“I love how intimate and raw it is to be around people who are going to die soon,” Kane said. “It’s not the big picture that matters anymore, it’s the little things.”
At 21-years-old, Kane is one of the youngest hospice nurses that currently works at the Indiana University Hospice House. The Fishers native says the hospital's mission for the patients is to make their death the best that they can.
“If they want ice cream, we’re gonna give it to them,” Kane said. “One of my patient’s nails were chipped, so I painted her nails for her.”
The bond hospice nurses create with their patients can never last long — at most six months — but to Kane, that doesn’t matter.
“Of course it’s sad when I hear that certain patients have passed away over night, but as a hospice nurse you gotta stay positive,” she said.
Although the relationships she forms with her patients are usually cut short, Kane believes that entering their lives at such an intimate point facilitates a faster and deeper connection.
“When you know your time has come you’re free to just be yourself,” she said.
As a nursing student at IU, Kane rarely has time to enjoy the traditional college experience. But, when she’s not serving as the light walking the halls of a dead end, she and her nursing friends can be found at Kilroy’s Sports Bar.
“I’m young, and I have no idea what I’m doing,” Kane said. “But working at the Hospice House, I sort of just fit in.”