THAT Moment...

This article was written as an assignment near the end of nursing school. The article refers to my most memorable experience while in nursing school, and the impact of that experience on my future as a nurse. Nurses Announcements Archive Article


THAT Moment...

As a final assignment near the end of nursing school, I was asked to write an essay describing my most memorable experience as a nursing student. Wow...

As I contemplated the MANY memorable (the good and the yuck) moments of nursing school, one clinical encounter clearly emerged. It was an experience that Oprah would call one of her infamous "ah-ha" moments!

During the fourth semester clinical on a hospital trauma floor, several members of my clinical group were invited to observe the placement of a wound VAC on an unusually large, open wound. Because I have learned, through my clinical experiences, that I am very fond of large, open wounds (never thought I would say that!), I quickly accepted the offer to observe. As I entered the room, I admit I was shocked to see a partially covered, morbidly obese male in his mid-twenties lying in the bed with a gangrenous wound covering most of his right leg. I quickly said hello to the attending doctors and nurse, and retreated to an area of the room where I could covertly observe.

As I ogled the massiveness of this wound, listened to the doctors describe the wound and the steps of this procedure, and noted the actions of the nurse assisting the doctor, I was completely enthralled. I was fully focused on this right leg, this large wound, and the medical procedures and nursing skills being performed. It was then that I heard the patient softly crying out in pain. As I redirected my thoughts to the entire situation in the room, I was suddenly reminded that this fascinating wound was part of a leg that was attached to a person, a real person. That leg was attached to someone who needed more than just wound care. It was at that moment that I realized how quickly I forgot to see the whole picture, and how easily a nurse, or any member of the healthcare profession, could forget. I realized how common it could be to go to work each day and take care of a body, without giving the necessary attention to the whole person.

In nursing school, we study and perform many skills that will become part of our daily routine. These skills must be performed correctly, safely, timely, and thoroughly documented. Many days a nurse feels short on help, short on rest, and short on time! How easily we can miss building a therapeutic relationship with our patients as we strive to be prudent!

In my Oprah moment and my ignorance in acknowledging the person attached to that leg, I knew I had made the right decision to become a nurse. I recognized the great importance of becoming a nurse that sees the patient as a whole, not just parts, and that provides quality care to the body, the mind, and the spirit. It will be important to recall my own experiences as a patient and to remember the fears and anxieties that accompany hospitalization. I truly believe that "The body follows where the mind goes", and the actions of a positive, compassionate nurse play a major role in healing the patient.

As I left the room that day, the patient still lying in the bed partially dressed and exhibiting signs of pain, I wanted to apologize for being that nurse that only sees the patient in parts. I wanted to apologize for everyone who had come into his room and not seen the whole person, or had observed him only as "the large wound in room 202." I didn't explain or apologize, but I did go to the head of his bed, smile and make eye contact, and thank him for allowing me to observe his medical care. He doesn't know what a difference he made in my life that day, but I hope that by speaking to him and showing genuine concern that maybe I made just a small difference in his.

I am a 41-year-old, new RN! I hold a BA degree in Elementary Education from the University of Mississippi, and, as of May 2011, an ADN degree from Hinds Community College in Jackson, MS. After years of teaching school and being "mommy", I fulfilled a long time desire to become a nurse. It's been three long years of prerequisites and nursing school, but I could not be more excited to begin this new phase of my life! I currently live in Jackson with my husband, Dorsey, and our three children, Max (15), Griffin (11), and Abigail (9).

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I agreed to let medical personnel study me and they would talk for a long time and then suddenly "snap to" and realize I was a live human being, smile awkwardly, and then go back to talking. It was funny to me, but I wasn't in pain. When I was in pain, and they were talking about their golf game, I was pretty ******. I'm sure your smile DID make a difference and you are going to be an excellent nurse.

Wow, thanks so much for the compliment. So sorry you had to go through something like that. Your comments will also help me be a better nurse! Hope you are doing well...Kim

Specializes in TELE, CVU, ICU.

Did anyone ever give him pain meds?


I love reading these articles. I'm preparing to enter nursing school this August. I am 55 years old. I have always wanted to be a nurse. God and time has opened this door for me and I intend to walk through it to the end. I am so excited to finally see a dream turn into reality. These articles have been so encouraging, funny, serious, and very refreshing. Looking forward to reading more.


Specializes in Rehab, Med Surg, Home Care.

Even after over 10 years I need to remember from time to time just why it was that I went into nursing. Very humbling; thank you for that reminder.

Specializes in Hospice Care, Med/Surg.

I thought I was older for doing nursing school. I just finished my LPN and am starting MS College in the fall to do my BSN. I am 34 and by the time I am finished I will be about 38. I am so proud of you and you are going to be a great nurse!

I am 54 and just completed my first semester of an AD-RN program. I was a Dental Hygienist and a Special Ed teacher. I still teach part time @ a local career college.Maybe we should start a thread for over 40 or second/third career changers.

I loved your post and it made me hold my head a little higher knowing that I will be a nurse soon too and that I will be a nurse that practices her art just like you. There are not many posts on here like yours and it was a light in the dark so to speak. How often on a daily basis does a nurse who is working with someone look into their eyes and really SEE that person? As a nurse you see all the work that you are checking off in your head, the paper work that needs to be done, the patient down the hall you need to see next... I know the doctors don't do it either, they see body funtion and chemistry and the process of a disease, you can practically see the wheels working behind their eyes as they consider the disease process, forms of treatment, etc, but they don't SEE the person.

I have to say I have moments like that almost every day. I work in home care and have the time to see the pt for more than a treatment, dressing change. That is why I really love my job. I had a huge ahaa moment when I followed a pt on to the bathroom one day and saw the look on his face. I apologized for my lack of consideration and got all the rest of our profession for not remembering that he is a person not just an illness. I did feel much better at the time. Kudos to you got rembering and smiling as a student. What a wonderful nurse you will be.

Oops the ahaa moment was several years on my nursing career many years ago but still just as memorable as yesterday. Home care does offer more time with each pt but does not mean less intense. Those huge wound vacs eventually come home thats when I take them. Gladly. I too love the big wounds.but understand out is usually just me and the pt. Love it.

We have to be careful when speaking about any group of people. Us vs. them. One of the sweetest moments I've witnessed, as a RN, was when I went with a doctor on his rounds. As he was talking with the patient, who was terminally ill, the doctor started crying, and sat down on the side of the patient's bed, and quietly, softly, cried with him. As with bedside manner of nurses depends on the nurse, so the doctor's bedside manner, depends on the doctor.