Here is one example of why I love nursing!!
I am sure that we all have been an inspiration for our patients at some point, and they have influenced and enlightened us in return. I hope that we can share these heart-warming stories on this BLOG to cheer each other on and help to remember why we love nursing and went into the profession in the first place.
After 37 years in nursing, I have so many uplifting stories to share that it is hard to know where to begin.
One scenario comes to mind that took me by surprise 15 years after the fact. At the beginning of this tale, I was employed as a new school nurse. I had much to master quickly in this specialty, as a school nurse mainly operates independently as the only medical professional in the building.
Being young and relatively naive in this position, I had to learn not to allow the students to take advantage of the nurse’s office to escape class. I had to ascertain who was genuinely ill or injured vs. those who maybe had not studied for a test or were trying to avoid PE class.
The difficult visits to sort out were those children who were not ill but were experiencing significant emotional distress. They often came from tough home situations, or were being bullied, or suffered from anxiety or PTSD. I always tried to be empathetic to all of the students' needs but especially wanted to be there for the children who had no one else to turn to for refuge from serious life challenges.
During my early school nurse years, a boy named Colin (not real name) visited the nurse regularly. He usually had a headache or upset stomach without vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or other visible health symptoms. For those not familiar with children, this set of vague complaints sometimes signals a malingering child who is not truly ill. On the other hand, a school nurse can not ignore these symptoms as they could indeed show an underlying physical or emotional cause.
So, after determining day after day that Colin was not actually sick when he came to the health room, we started talking and established a working relationship. We would chat about Colin’s school and home life, which revealed many anxiety-producing situations. He did indeed appear to suffer from anxiety and with good cause.
We made a plan with the school counselor and teacher that if he was anxious, he could come and talk with me or the counselor, take a brief rest to calm himself and relieve his headache, and then return to class. The one criteria was that he could only leave class when approved by the teacher (i.e., not during a test) or during recess or lunch. This plan was acceptable for Colin and the teacher, and eventually, I started to see him less and less with complaints.
The following year Colin went on to middle school.
I did not give much thought again to Colin until I received an email from him 15 years later. He said he was a man now but will never forget how I cared for him during his most challenging years as a child. He said the simple time allotted him to regroup in the health room and talk to me meant so much to him to help him function and get through each day.
He thanked me numerous times for my kindness and insight and wished me well. He said that he is doing well now as an adult and has learned to incorporate some of the anxiety-relieving strategies I had taught him as a 5th grader.
The email brought tears to my eyes as I had forgotten about Colin. I am so thankful for the letter. Much of what we do as nurses goes unacknowledged, and you never know if you make an impression as a nurse. So this email helped me to remember why I loved nursing. It is helping the patient; whether it is physical or emotional healing, I am happy to be there for them.
I am sure there are many more unwritten letters such as this one from many of our encounters with patients. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if we really do make a difference?
Check back with me in a few days for more inspiration and care to keep you going in your nursing career.
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In nurse sisterhood,