The Most Amazing Patient

One of my personal heroes came into my life in the most unexpected of ways.

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The Most Amazing Patient

I have been working as a nursing assistant at a local hospital while going to school full-time to become a registered nurse. When I started my job in July 2007, I was brand-new to the nursing field and completely inexperienced. I work on the telemetry unit, which tends to be fast paced and quite busy with activity. The last year has been full of ups and downs for me as I have navigated my way along this path I have chosen for myself. The ups tend to make up for the downs, especially when it involves an encounter with an amazing, memorable patient. One such patient for me is Mrs. Smith, whom I met in August 2007 when she was a patient on our unit.

Mrs. Smith was a retired nurse and she lived alone. She had been discharged from the hospital for several hours, but she had no ride home and no money for a cab. My charge nurse was going to offer Mrs. Smith a ride home, but that would mean waiting at the hospital for a few more hours. Since I was nearing the end of my shift, I offered to take Mrs. Smith home.

On the drive to Mrs. Smith's house, we had much to talk about in regards to nursing. It struck me quite fitting that she was a retired nurse and I was just embarking on my nursing career. At the time, I was still in the process of preparing for entrance exams and had not yet been accepted into a nursing program. "You'll make a wonderful nurse, I just know it," she said, as I pulled up in front of her home. We parted with a hug and I made sure she got into her house before I drove away.

Life went on as usual and, that fall, I began the testing process for entrance into a local nursing program. Mrs. Smith had slipped from my mind as more pressing things demanded my attention. I was on a shift during the holiday season and had just completed my last entrance exam days before. It would be more than a month before I knew if I had been accepted. I was full of nerves and doubt, even questioning if I was doing the right thing going into nursing. The director of my unit and my boss pulled me into her office and said she had something to show me. She pulled out a Christmas card addressed to the hospital, but made out to me and my charge nurse. It was signed by Mrs. Smith. On the Christmas card, she wrote that I would make a wonderful nurse. Immediately, my spirits were lifted. I felt my nerves calm and my self-doubting quiet down. I felt a peace within as I thought of Mrs. Smith and all of the other patients that had touched me or moved me in some way. Of course, I was doing the right thing! This is what I was meant to do!

In January 2008, I was accepted into the nursing program and I started the program that Spring. Over the Summer, I was feeling the strain of keeping up with my shifts at work, my volunteer work, and going to school during the week. I felt as if I was on the verge of burn out and, again, I began questioning whether or not I was doing the right thing going into nursing. I was on shift and getting ready to take my lunch break when my charge nurse stopped me in the hallway. "Do you remember Mrs. Smith from last August? She's here visiting one of her friends," she said. We both walked quickly down the hall to go see Mrs. Smith.

As soon as I walked through the door, her eyes lit up and she exclaimed, "I am so glad you're here! If I knew you were going to be here today, I would have baked you a cake!" We embraced in a tight hug and made small talk for a few minutes before I had to excuse myself. I was famished and I desperately needed to make it to the cafeteria before they closed. Mrs. Smith said she needed to go home, anyway. I walked with her to the elevators and we parted with another hug as I got off on the second floor. "I still think you are going to be a wonderful nurse, Jennifer," she said before the elevator doors closed, separating us as I stood in the corridor.

Not long after my lunch break that day, I was walking up the corridor on the west wing of the third floor to one of my patients' rooms. I stopped short because I saw Mrs. Smith getting off of the elevators and limping down the hallway in the opposite direction, carrying some heavy grocery bags in both hands. Before I could catch up to her, one of my patients needed my assistance right away and I had no choice but to put my patient first.

After I had my patient settled and comfortable, my hospital cell phone rang. It was my charge nurse telling me that Mrs. Smith had just dropped off angel food cake, Cool Whip, fresh strawberries, and fresh bananas so we could have strawberry shortcake. Mrs. Smith sneaked away after she dropped everything off, so I never got to thank her.

As I took a few minutes to enjoy the dessert, I just shook my head in disbelief. It was the hottest day of Summer, with temperatures reaching 118 degrees. Gas prices were at their highest all over the Valley at $4.15 per gallon. Mrs. Smith had to drive several miles out of her way, in the heat, just to go to the grocery store and back to the hospital. Then she had to lug those heavy grocery bags across the parking lot, in the scorching sun. I was touched that she would do something so selfless and thoughtful.

I got a knot in my throat as I realized that Mrs. Smith always appeared when I needed reassurance about the journey I am on. Once again, I felt peace as I realized that a career in nursing is exactly what is meant for me. When my graduation day finally arrives, Mrs. Smith is going to be with me in spirit and I will hear her voice whispering, "You are going to be a wonderful nurse, Jennifer."

All I gave her was a ride home, but she ended up giving me so much more in return. Mrs. Smith is a hero to me because her seemingly insignificant gestures inspired me in ways she may never know.

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6,011 Posts

Specializes in ORTHOPAEDICS-CERTIFIED SINCE 89. Has 30 years experience.

I'll bet Mrs Smith never thought it was an inconvenience at all. You made a forever friend.


106 Posts

Not only a friend forever but a wealth of information and advice. Priceless!:wink2:


1 Article; 25 Posts

this actually brought tears to my eyes. It takes a lot to do that. I just started nursing school, and I feel the same way you did (do) sometimes. I'm glad that you have that "angel" watching over you!


547 Posts

Why don't you invite Mrs. Smith to your graduation?

jeninthedesert, BSN, RN

1 Article; 74 Posts

I have actually considered getting in touch with Mrs. Smith to do just that! I've been in touch with her via mail and considered mailing her an invitation! ?

Wendy Leebov Ed.D.

1 Article; 20 Posts

Has 20 years experience.

Mrs. SMith is truly inspirational. Thank you for sharing this story. I hope she sees it so she feels your positive regard. People who make a difference to us are so precious.

Wendy Leebov


22 Posts

I felt a lump on my throat and a shimmer of tear in my eyes upon reading your story. Thank you for inspiring those who still doubt their profession. There are so many Mrs. Smiths and the likes of you in this world who will continue to amaze us with the greatness of the heart and how it can spread love and care to others. God bless.

Chaya, ASN, RN

932 Posts

Specializes in Rehab, Med Surg, Home Care. Has 15 years experience.

Aw. Angels don't always come with wings!


216 Posts

Thank you for sharing a great inspirational story! :) Best of luck to you! You sound like you will make a great compassionate nurse! ;)


50 Posts

Specializes in Hope to be in the NICU.

Wow! What a touching story! Some people are placed in our lives at just the right time.


39 Posts

Wow...what a wonderful woman. This story brought tears to my eyes. It made me think of my grandma. It also really motivates me to do well once I get into the nursing program.

Thanks for the wonderful story!