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Pat ourselves on the back

Specializes in ER.

There are too many ways to feel bad about nursing and nurses any more...I suggest we each post a story that pats ourselves on the back. I got my little "burnout preventer" tonight at the start of my shift. Last week I was caring for a patient with flash pulmonary edema, on top of her litany of other medical problems.

After several hours of one on one care (at the expense of my other 9 patients), she was developing chest pain that I could not relieve. Multiple calls to the F.P. resident failed to help or provide me with any orders that could help.. his last words were "Sit on her a while and see if it goes away." At this point I repeated her EKG and called the attending...The lady was infarcting...

The resident approached me today and thanked me...He said he was on his 25th hour and that my perseverance and knowledge saved this lady...I cannot tell you how good that made me feel. What was nicest though was that he would take the time to acknowledge it....

Let me hear your "pats on the back". We all need them and I know you all have one...



Specializes in Hospice, Critical Care.

OK, why are these so much tougher to come up with? I guess because, although we do get some, they aren't many.....but I can remember a few:

(1) nursing students telling me I was the kind of nurse they want to be

(2) pulmunologist telling me I read CXRs better than the radiologist

(3) family members who have send cards and letters (rare, but it does happen); one in particular who sent a general card to the unit but gave me an individual card--I still keep that one!

I'm sure there are more but they tend to get buried in the rubble of the abuse that is heaped in greater quantities than the 'pats.'

At my regular job I've received hugs, thank you's, prayers and songs from patients and families. Even doctors and management often say, "thank you" and sometime give a hug or pat on the back. My fellow workers give smiles and we often say,"I'm glad you're here." or "You really helped".

I worked registry at a hospital where the nursing staff always helped even though they were understaffed and I didn't even know how to use the IV pumps. They really deserve praise.

Thank you for this topic.


The latest issue of RN magazine has a wonderful article. The writer saw David Letterman after his heart surgery. He brought on stage his family MD, cardiologist, surgeon, NP, and bedside nurse. He shook hands with all who had helped save his life. When he got to his nurse he gave her a hug. The author said,"I want to be the one who gets the hug."


[This message has been edited by spacenurse (edited October 20, 2000).]

Hi. I take the attitude that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I make every attempt to come into work when scheduled with a positive spirit. If my ratio of warm fuzzies to duds is low at any give time, I'm okay with that. I feel good knowing that during my career, I have made a positive difference in somebody's life with what I have to offer. This is what I went into nursing for. I have accepted the fact that I can't or won't be a feel good pill for everyone I encounter. I have also accepted the fact that my positive impact on a patient may be rewarded in a very subtle way.

[This message has been edited by Mijourney (edited October 21, 2000).]

Thanks to you ALL!!

[This message has been edited by bluesgirl (edited October 25, 2000).]

Thanks to you ALL!!

I just started back to work this week--after two months "off"--I realized today that I'm so hard on myself, that I forget one of the most important things about living, Thank God I don't have to do it alone, that I don't have to know everything, that not everyone notices when I'm doing it right, and not everyone notices when I'm not doing it right. I'm not alone, there's always one of you, either there on my shift, or there for me later, and that's why I'm gonna try one more time--cause that's what I miss.

And during that two mo.s I was not working I could still be a nurse throught this site---and I can say to you all--Hugs to you all, that even though I was not a nurse, I was still able to learn, I was still able to be a part of nursing, I am still wanting to be a part of "that special breed of people".



TKOLRN, just wondered where you work in MI, or a nearby area if you'd feel more comfortable with that. Your hospital sounds nice and it's good to know there are good ones out there. One of the things that stand out with me in my career was when I worked Neuro intensive care. My patient had an anerysm clipped in a very sensitive area, and ended up in our unit for two monthes. She was an MSU professor, her husband a wonderful man. She was so touch and go during her time with us. Even went into third degree heart block on and off for nearly 24 hours. I would sit in her room my entire shift, shift after shift. Finally she stabilized and went to the stepdown. A few months later she came back to the unit to let us know she was ok and back to work. She looked so good I didn't even recognize her. She and her husband made a point of thanking the nurses and writing a letter to the hospital. It was so great to see a good outcome when a full recovery happens so little in neuro. Yes, the rewards can be wonderful. Knowing that is what really keeps us here isn't it?

Dearest TKOLRN,

I can't recall patting myself on the back; but then again, I have felt extremely vindicated when I have successfully advocated for a pt. and have staunchly held my ground. But the main reason for my response to you is that reading these posts have made me feel warm and fuzzy. I hope you get a million responses to this post and I will eagerly read each and every one. I find it so wonderful to be reminded of what nursing is (mostly) all about. God bless you.

About a month ago I saw a former patient in the market. She was buying peaches to make a pie. This lady had survived emergency surgery, eviceration, sepsis, and weeks on the ventilator with a trach. Although she remained alert with legible handwriting most held little hope for her survival. After she was off vasopressors I transferred her out of critical care.

It was the warmest fuzzy to get that hug in the produce section!

She wanted me to give her thanks to the nurses, RTs and aides who had helped her. You bet I did!



I took care of a 50 year old lady in our ICU. She came in with respiratory distress. She ended up on a ventilator for about a week. She was fairly alert most of the time. I worked all week with her, provided lots of support and hand-holding. She finally got off the vent and went home.

Several days later, her husband showed up with a handful of restaurant gift certificates for the staff. She stopped by a few weeks later and thanked me for taking such good care of her. She credited all of us for saving her life.

What a wonderful profession!

When I was new to ICU, fresh off orientation and terrified, I was assigned to a patient who had ruptured a thoracic AA out of the hospital- made it through emergency surgery only to hit sepsis and ARDS. He was not expected to live. His family was with him- 1500 miles from home.

AFter 4 weeks in ICU he was still vented and critical but more stable and was being transferred back to Canada by medflight (insurance, of course.) The night before he left, the family brought the unit cookies. While I was in a room, they left special gifts for me- a plaque with a saying about how no matter how bad things get, knowing someone is there makes it better, a nurse angel pin, and a card that said I "had a true gift for humanity."

I still read that card when I think I just can't do it anymore. No matter how bad things get, it's a reminder that I truly love what I do.

One of the biggest boosts I got came at perhaps the lowest ebb in my nursing career. I'd been doing agency work, covering several different hospitals. I got nailed twice for med. errors that were not my fault, but I was held responsible because I didn't notice them in time (in the one case, someone else hung 2/3 and 1/3 to run with blood, and I didn't notice until after I'd run in a second unit! It was my first time giving blood in this hospital, and I was so concerned about doing the paperwork right on the blood, that I never thought to check what was hanging with it.) Anyway, my agency suspended me from giving medications, effectively demoting me to Health Care Aid status. I was given a one-on-one assignment with a vented patient in ICU. It was a really sad case. She'd worked as a nurse until age 65, then contracted ALS almost immediately upon retirement. The disease progressed rapidly, and about all she was able to do at this point was move the fingers on one hand enough to work her call bell, if you adjusted it just so. My job was seeing to her personal care and feeding, plus calling for the RT or a nurse if she needed suctioning. Due to the vent, it took two people to even turn her safely, which is why the ICU needed the extra help.

She was a wonderful Christian lady, and had either a deacon or a priest come and pray with her every morning. Enetering her room was like going into a chapel. I told her my story, and she really felt for me, and did everything she could to encourage me. I was with her when I got the phone call saying that I'd been hired for a community nursing job, which is what I'd always wanted! "See," she said, "I been praying for you, and I just knew the Lord had something better in store for you!"

The lady in the next bed was a retired nun, and when my pt. was receiving communion, I saw her crossing herself, and praying. I asked the deacon if he could pray for her too, and he did so. Unfortunately, the lady had just come off a vent, and was still very confused, and thought I was another nurse whom she disliked. She was very cold towards me for the rest of her stay, though her daughter was aware of my efforts to help her and be kind to her. Later, when she was in stepdown, which was on the same floor, she made a point of seeking me out and apologizing to me, and thanking me for what I'd done. I was so touched, I had to fight back the tears.

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