A few weeks ago, I saw this video online and felt truly inspired. It's a heartbreaking video from the perspective of a mother who has lost her son- but the part that stood out to me was how she outlined everything that the nurses did for her son. All of the seemingly more insignificant things we learn in nursing school- whether it's communicating with patients or making sure you know where the stockroom is to give patients extra supplies- were the things that meant so much to this mother. It was the therapeutic communication when her son was in his worst moments, cleaning up his bodily fluids without humiliating him, and holding the mother as she shed her final tears over her son. I think about this video as I struggle through my classes, seeing the opportunity to make such an impact on others lives as the end point- the goal of my career. So for all of my nurses out there struggling to find motivation, here's the things that ONLY you, the nurse, can do.
It's a nurse who doesn't humiliate the patient.
She cleans the linens that are covered in all kinds of fluids that no one wants to discuss outside of a hospital setting and makes sure that the you are clean, dry and comfortable. Comfort is the nurse's top priority- they "close the curtain for your privacy" so that your sister-in-law who won't stop asking you questions will finally leave you alone, and so that your husband doesn't have to see the gross incision on your abdomen from the C-section that you're recovering from. She holds the mother that just gave birth as she struggles to sit on the toilet, and she cleans up the old man who wasn't able to make it to the toilet in time before his wife can see him. It's a nurse that is your safeguard, your barrier from the outside world, and the only person that has ever seen you so vulnerable.
It's a nurse who explains what's going on.
When the doctor leaves the room, the nurse tells you the truth about the procedure he outlined. Whether it's going to hurt when they make the incision ("just a little, but you'll be asleep before you know it"), if the scar if ever going to heal ("never completely, but you won't be able to tell in a bathing suit"), and when you'll be able to play soccer with your kids again ("take 2 weeks off of your feet and you'll be just fine, as long as you don't play goalie!"). She explains to your family what's going on ("your mom is going to be fine, she's just going to get a small cut on her tummy so they can make her feel better") and makes sure that they receive updates throughout the procedure ("your wife is doing excellent, she just got stitched up"). It's a nurse that makes everyone feel a bit more at ease during a time of total and complete family chaos.
It's a nurse who advocates for the patient.
She asks the doctor if he's sure that the patient really needs to be restrained in her bed when her hip is healing just fine. She makes sure that the catheter is pulled out so that the patient doesn't get a UTI. She triple checks the medications with the doctor and the pharmacy, and most importantly, against her own knowledge. She has an instinct- she knows when something isn't right and she needs to step in. She isn't afraid to do so. It's a nurse that puts the patients needs before her own and becomes their voice when they don't have a say.
It's a nurse who makes you laugh.
It seems so simple, but hospitals tend to not be a place of laughter and happiness. Hospitals are seen as a place of business- but they don't have to be. The nurse talks to the 14 year old girl about the boy she has a crush on as she flushes her IV, making her blush and giggle and forget about the reason she has the IV in the first place- at least for a little while. The nurse tells an elderly woman the story of the first time that she tried to put on a pair of gloves in clinical and they split in half, making her laugh as she cleans the urine off of her bed sheets. The nurse tells a new mom that her husband looks panicked standing in the hallway, and they laugh together at how "it takes men a little while to get there." It's a nurse that knows the exact thing to say at the exact time to bring you a sense of relief.
It's a nurse who does the right thing.
Always. The nurse knows that some things just need a little bit of extra love and care. She knows the importance of holding a hand, talking to a nervous patient, or even just sitting in silence to show the patient that someone is there. A nurse loves a little bit more, squeezes a little bit tighter, and emphasizes- so much so that she can almost feel your pain with you. It's a nurse that does these things that no one else can do. It's always a nurse.