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A Nurse's Hands


Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

I've been retired for over two years now, but in a rare contemplative moment, here are a few thoughts on what being a nurse meant to me.

Lately I've taken to looking at my hands, which appear to have morphed into my grandmother's in recent years. They are well-worn and the skin is thinning rapidly, much to my dismay. While a layer of fat fills in the lines in my face, the same thing can't be said for my hands, which tell my life story without words.

And then I remember: these hands have held new life, and comforted the dying.

These hands have given the first bath...and the last.

They have been washed literally hundreds of thousands of times in the service of people I didn't give birth to.

They have administered the first feeding and the last dose of morphine.

They have rubbed sore backs, dressed wounds, smoothed fresh linens over feverish bodies.

They have fed, cleaned, stopped bleeding, performed CPR. They have also prepared the living for surgery, and the dead for their final journey.

They are the hands of a nurse. And even though my career is over, my hands will forever bear the marks of the noble work they once did.

And somehow, that makes the wrinkles OK.

Edited by Joe V


Specializes in long term care Alzheimers Patients.


that is beautiful. I notice my hands morphing into my grandmother's too. Hugs my friend

What beautiful hands they are viva !!!! Thanks for writing this.

KCMnurse, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Educator. Has 37 years experience.

This is beautiful - thank you for sharing. I was always told that your hands tell your story.

Yay, Viva! I'm glad you're writing. You always make me feel something when you write.

You deserve those beautiful nurse's hands. Each wrinkle is a testament to the people you've helped and the nurses you've inspired.


Has 13 years experience.

Wow. Made me cry [emoji24]

jifferte, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Nsg. Ed, Infusion, Pediatrics, LTC. Has 20 years experience.

Beautifully written.

azhiker96, BSN, RN

Specializes in PACU. Has 10 years experience.

Well said Viva.

Patricia Birnstiel

Specializes in Pediatrics, med/surg.

This was beautiful. I am getting ready to retire and am finding it difficult to stop doing what I have done my entire life. This brings back memories of my life in review. Thank you.


Specializes in ICU/Management/Holistic Health. Has 40 years experience.

Beautiful --- uplifting --- a reminder of the work & spirit we bring to our profession.

FranEMTnurse, CNA, LPN, EMT-I

Specializes in LTC, CPR instructor, First aid instructor.. Has 24 years experience.

Viva, you write so eloquently. I love your articles and this one is exceptional. It touched my heart in many ways, and brought back many memories of when I worked in the healthcare field. Thank you so much.

Viva, well said, thank you so much for your dedication and service to the nursing profession. I am sure that your caring and compassionate hands will be missed. Your post is very inspiring for young and senior nurses as well.


Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

You are a great writer, Viva. You have such heart.

Wow, this is beautiful. What an honorable profession. Thank you for sharing this.


Specializes in QA, ID/DD, Correctional, Education. Has 43 years experience.

As always you express via writing what lies deep in the hearts of many of us. Wrinkles, scars, swollen knuckles are all physical testament to countless hours of dedicated hands on healing, comforting and consoling.

Thanks so much for sharing. I too have been retired for two years and it's funny because I was looking at my hands the other day and smiled. Nursing was my profession at home and in the work place. Oh if my hands could talk. Now my youngest grand says "Nana hold my hand".