Last month, I celebrated my 34th year of being a nurse. Do the math to figure out that I am no longer a spring chick! I still work part-time, but had to give up the hospital scene several years ago.
Although National Nurses Day was May 6, I decided to use the anniversary of my becoming a nurse to pay a belated tribute to nurses.
My Friday Feature honors nurses everywhere.
When I graduated from nursing school, healthcare was drastically different from today. It was during the beginning stages of HMO’s, but long before talk of healthcare exchanges. It was prior to the discovery of HIV, with its associated blood borne precautions. Healthcare was changing back then, too, but just not at the rapid pace of today.
Even with the changes in healthcare, though, nurses are still a critical part in its delivery. For those who have required hospitalization, or know someone who has, you can attest to the fact that good nursing care is one of the key components to a successful stay.
A nurse, especially a good one, leaves a lasting memory for patients and their families. Thankfully, for the profession, the outstanding nurses make such an impression that they often dim the memories of the inept. I remember very well the terrific ICU nurses who cared for my dad prior to his death, for both their skill level and compassion. Any uncaring or inferior ones, we have long since forgotten.
Nurses just have a way of leaving behind this trail of caring. I love this quote that speaks to the heart of nursing:
When you’re a nurse, you know that every day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours.
Elizabeth Nash, RN
My favorite nurse was certainly one of those caring types. Elizabeth, my late mother-in-law shown above, was an old-school nurse. Many young readers may not even know what the object is on her head, since nursing caps are essentially extinct (thankfully so!). She was one of those nurses who trained partly in the classroom, but mostly out on the floor, learning theory while at the same time learning how to care.
In my opinion, they were the crème de la crème of nurses. Even though nurses like Elizabeth would be totally lost today, with the high-tech gadgets and computerized charting, they could nurse the socks off these new whippersnappers, in terms of assessing patients and offering palliative care. Their breed of nurses was the best.
The old timers are long gone, replaced with the new. I just hope that the core principles of compassion accompany their training in juggling the demands of higher patient loads, and rapidly changing advances in technology. Things cannot go back to the way they were, and in all fairness to the newer nurses, they are doing the best they can with the evolving healthcare system. Either way, nurses are still what make or break the system, and are all in need of thanks for their sacrifices.
My advice to the new generation of nurses is this:
Talk with your patients, not to them.
Greet them and tell them your name.
And by all means, treat their families the same.
Listen to your patients, even if short on time.
Remember, when you get frazzled beyond despair,
It’s often the little things that show you care.
Observe your patients; assess them well.
Trust what you see as much, if not more,
Than what some machine is beeping forth.
Attend to your patients, go the extra mile.
Treat them with kindness, and put yourself in their place.
For your job as a nurse is not just a job, it is a special calling of grace.
If you know a nurse, thank him or her. If you are one, we thank you.