It doesn't seem all that long ago that I made the decision to become a Nurse. Nursing school, the "Pinning and Capping" ceremonies, and yes, graduation! And can someone please tell me where have all the caps gone? But we Nurses know that it's what's under the cap that matters the most!
There are a lot of firsts in life, and you never forget your first patient. Mine was a young man on a ventilator, totally unresponsive, with multiple fractures, as a result of a motorcycle accident. With all the training I thought I had, nothing prepared me for what I saw that day. To my amazement, eight months later, that same young man walked back to our Surgical Intensive Care Unit to thank each and everyone of us for caring for him. I also found out that day that miracles can and do happen.
I worked in a Nursing Home, a Hospital, and in a school as a substitute School Nurse. I worked in a Surgical Intensive Care Unit taking care of open heart patients, in Post Anesthesia Care Unit taking care of post operative patients, in a step down unit caring for cardiac patients, and I even worked in an Endocrinologist's office! I have cared for the very young and the very old. I worked my way up in the ranks from Nurses' Aide, a Licensed Practical Nurse, and as a Registered Nurse. You might say, I have done it all!
I have seen a lot of changes in the way a Nurse nurses over the years. Computer charting has replaced paper charting. Hand held computer scanners have replaced "med cards." Electronic machines now measure vital signs, temperature, pulse, and blood pressure instantly and with ease. But one thing that remains constant is what drives a Nurse to do what they do. Patients look to their Nurse for guidance and to allay their fears when faced with difficult choices. And it's no wonder when patients are hospitalized, it is the Nurse that they remember the most!
Night shift, day shift, rotating shifts together and having every other weekend off, welcome to my world! Working to the end of the shift and more if the need arises. Staying until your relief shows up when that snow storm hits. Charting when you get the chance, giving report to the next shift, going home, and doing the same thing all over again the next day. But every day is different, a challenge, different patients, different diagnoses.
Yes, indeed, it takes a special person to be a Nurse. And I hope that my patients felt that I was that Nurse that they recalled, a special person who made a difference in their lives and good health. You could have one patient recovering from surgery in one room, hoping to be discharged back home to their family, and in another room, a totally different situation, comforting a poor elderly lady with no family who can't go back to her home. You could have five or more different patients on your assignment with five or more totally different plans of care challenging you all at the same time.
I take care of my patients over the phone now. I work in an Outpatient Surgery Screening Department. Even though I do not physically touch my patients when I care for them, I reach out to them in a rewarding way, and know that I still make a difference in their lives. It's hard to believe that after 42 years of service, my career will soon be coming to an end. It will be hard to walk away from all that I know. But I know when I walk that last walk I will be taking much more away with me than what I had to start out with 42 years ago.