#NursesWeek #OneShift #Nurseisms #thankanurse
As a Registered Nurse, I know first-hand how hard nurses work and how much we care about those entrusted to our care. So when I was asked by Social Moms to partner with Dignity Health to show appreciation to my fellow nurses during Nurses Week, I was happy for the opportunity to show my colleagues some love!
National Nurses Week is May 6th – 12th and this year’s theme is “Ethical Practice. Quality Care.” According to the American Nurses Association, this theme was chosen because it “recognizes the importance of ethics in nursing and acknowledges the strong commitment, compassion and care nurses display in their practice and profession.”
As a newly licensed nurse fresh out of nursing school in 1991, I remember the strong weight of heavy responsibilities I felt upon my shoulders. I remember being in awe of the sense that someone’s life was literally in my hands. And with that sense of responsibility and awe, I felt determined to give my very best to my patients, colleagues and the hospital where I worked.
My chosen field of nursing was pediatrics. For the first couple of years I was working the night shift from 11 pm to 7:30 am. Now one might be tempted to think that nothing much happens in the middle of the night so the night nurses must have it easy, right? Nothing could be further from the truth! I was asked to describe a typical #OneShift of my time as a hospital nurse, but honestly, as any nurse will tell you, there is not really any such thing as a “typical shift”. When it comes to nursing, anything can happen and every day is different. Some nights were fairly quiet and calm, with only a few patients on the floor. Those were the nights we were grateful for because we knew they were only a brief respite from the inevitable chaos that would surely come soon. Sure enough, we’d have a night start off quietly with only a handful of patients to divide between us, only to start getting back to back calls from the ER needing to admit patients, one after another, after another, and we’d end up with a nearly full floor by the time the day shift nurses took over. This happened so often that my colleagues and I became a little “superstitious” and would never say, “Gee, it’s a quiet night tonight”, for fear of jinxing ourselves!
For all the changes from day to day, there were some things about every shift that remained constant. Patients needed my care and attention, parents and other family members needed to be reassured of their loved one’s well-being and given instructions on how to care for their sick or injured child after discharge, doctor’s orders needed to be followed, medicines needed to be administered, IV’s needed to be started, vital signs needed checking, and charts needed to be updated. Most importantly, to me, my patients needed to know I truly cared about them and was there for them.
The shifts that stand out the most to me, over 20 years later, are the ones where we celebrated victories over illnesses and injuries and those where we were devastated over the loss of patients who were far too young to die. During a 3 month span of time in my last year as a hospital nurse, we lost 6 kids, one to a trauma and the others were cystic fibrosis patients whom I had taken care of many times in my years there. Many times during that period, the staff would gather in the conference room to debrief and grieve together. Doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists hugged each other and cried on each others’ shoulders. Then I came home and sobbed my heart out to my husband and asked God to comfort the families, doctors, nurses, and everyone who had cared about these precious children.
Thankfully, there were many more victories and healthy patients going home than there were losses. I remember a young boy who had been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre (gee-YAH-buh-RAY) syndrome, a rare disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves and causes paralysis. He spent many weeks with us before transferring to a pediatric rehab facility to get his strength back. His mother brought him up to visit a few weeks later and when he walked up to us, we all cheered and hugged him! We were elated to see him able to walk and feeling well again. I still have a picture of him with all of us that had taken care of him.
I’ve always believed nursing is a calling and each area of nursing is unique and requires a special kind of nurse for each of those areas. I was drawn to pediatrics, caring for kids and their parents. I have relatives whom have chosen other areas of nursing and I’m so proud of them for their commitment and dedication to their calling. The field of nursing is a wide and diverse one, with many different avenues of opportunities in which to practice nursing.
When I first became a nurse, I dreamed of working my way up to head nurse, then maybe nursing administration. Or going back to school for a Master’s Degree so I could teach nursing to the next generation. I never dreamed I’d leave traditional nursing to become a non-traditional nurse as a nurse entrepreneur, blogger, talk show host and speaker. It still amazes me, all these years later, how blessed I am to be able to share my nursing expertise and knowledge in these ways. While I do miss hands-on patient care sometimes, I feel I am doing exactly what I was called to do and my time as a hospital nurse was meant as a foundation to build upon and make what I do now possible.
So for all my fellow nurses, whether traditional or non-traditional, whether practicing or retired, here’s to you! Thank you for all you do. Thank you for the love you show, the care you give, the sacrifices you make, the bathroom breaks and lunches you frequently have to skip, the smiles you share to cheer your patients, and the tears you cry when losing one. Happy National Nurses Week! You are the best of the best!
Dignity Health will be celebrating nurses and showing appreciation for their hard work and dedication on Dignity Health’s social media channels all week long during Nurses Week from May 6th through May 12th. Be sure to follow @DignityHealth on Twitter and the hashtags #NursesWeek, #OneShift, #thankanurse and #Nurseisms beginning Wednesday, May 6th at 6 am. Tweet along with them to share your stories of being a nurse or to share your appreciation for a nurse in your life. Follow Dignity Health on Instagram at @HelloHumanKindness and use the same hashtags to share your story there.
Do you have a story to share with us? Are you a nurse? Or is there a nurse who has made a difference in your life? I want to hear about it! Comment below and let’s all celebrate Nurses Week together!
FTC Disclosure: I was compensated by Social Moms for my work on the Dignity Health Nurses Week campaign. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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