Nurses enter the profession for two main reasons: They were sick as a child or their parent was a nurse. Well, thankfully, I have been healthy and, other than an optometrist in the family, no one is a healthcare provider. But I owe a big thank you to one nurse who inspired me and gave me a vision of such an awesome career that it kept me from quitting on Day One. The sad part is, I don’t remember her name - just her face and her actions.
It would be quite a thrill for me – perhaps even for her -- if I discovered who she is as a result of this new blog. But my intent with PhillyRN is broader -- to discuss current events, research, trends, and critical issues within and about nursing and, most importantly, our interactions with the people entrusted to our care.
I currently work as a clinical staff and quality improvement nurse in an 30 bed emergency department. Although we are not a trauma center, we see significant cardiac, pulmonary and neurological cases. Emergency care has been my niche for the past eight years, with overlapping experiences in Urgent Care (walk-in centers for basic medical emergency care) and Home Care settings. I’ve chosen not to identify my employer in this blog to avoid any risk of censorship or persuasion. But my employer fully supports my work at PhillyRN. And you should know that all the principles of HIPPA – the universal name for rules protecting privacy of patient health records that came with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 -- will be observed.
The American Nurses Association has a fancy definition of nursing, but my favorite part states “… advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.” I try to remember this concept - and the actions of the hospice nurse who inspired me - as I practice clinically. I can respect nurses who enter the profession for a multitude of reasons, including money or job security, but I can only hope that those who will take care of my family have a kindness that motivates them and an understanding of what it means to be an advocate for your patients.
That hospice nurse did just that. I was 10 years old when I met this amazing woman in the summer of ’95. I sat with my family just off Haldeman Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia, the home of my grandparents, which had been transformed with hospice services and equipment for my Mommom. She was dying from a long battle with stomach cancer. The hospice nurse couldn’t stop the dying process but she took control when my parents and family felt utterly out of control. I admired her.
This may sound corny, but it all made sense. I cared for my toys, dolls, and pets, and caring for people was what I saw myself doing for life. My Mommom’s hospice nurse showed me a greater potential. She was at the home for what seemed like “always,” and I now can appreciate that she was there not just for scheduled visits but more than likely also putting in extra hours to help my parents, aunts and uncles. Even now I can picture her dark hark, sitting under the Tiffany light at my grandparents’ kitchen table, organizing the cancer meds, pain meds, and educating my parents about how to use them. I even remember her spending time with my father to call around and find the cheapest options for filling the prescriptions. I remember her spending time privately with my Mommom, giving her a bed bath, bringing dignity to her nearly lifeless body, all of 90 pounds, and even assisting her as she put on lipstick. Lastly, I remember her at the funeral - a final, unexpected act of kindness.
Nine years later, at age 19, I passed the nursing boards! But, why did I almost quit on Day One? Well, on day one of nursing school, at Gwynedd-Mercy College, we were taught how to make a patient bed. God help the college-bound student who did not know how to make a bed ! Needless to say, I felt insulted and discouraged. Looking back, I would encourage a nursing student to identify a role model, hang in there through the individual class days, and start creating the bigger career goal that satisfies your interests. There are many unique areas of nursing in which to practice, but nurses are consistently the first-line of direct patient care.
So, if you are a nurse, what motivated you to choose this path? Who inspired you? Please feel free to share your stories (remembering, of course, to be careful about their privacy).