Is Nursing a Talent?

18 September, 2015 § Leave a comment

The Washington Post published “Is nursing a talent? You can bet your life on it.” The article is very well written and it confirms what many of us already know: it is a skill that we continually work to keep sharp and update.  In some ways, it is a lot like many of the other talents that were displayed in the Miss America pageant. We juggle a patient load, orders, varying degrees of patient acuity and needs.  We move so quickly up and down the unit that we often feel like we are on (and sometimes need) roller skates.  We have sung to our patients. We have read poetry to them. We tell them jokes. We often work magic.  Indeed, we have many of the same talents as pageant contestants, but we also have so many more talents and skills that are necessary to be a Nurse.

Since the jokes made by the hosts of the View, I have used my skills and talents as a nurse to perform CPR, stabilize a cervical spine with my hands until we were able to place a collar, managed the trach of patients so that they may continue to breath, placed an IV so that a patient could receive live saving medications, comforted and calmed scared and confused patients, decreased someone’s pain, increased someone’s hope, and gave families peace of mind that their loved ones were in good and caring hands. That is only a small fraction of what I and my 3 million colleagues have done.


A NICU Experience shows the Art and Heart of Nursing

7 June, 2013 § 2 Comments


Source: Forrest General Hospital

A few days ago I talked about being a smarter nurse and the science of nursing.  Today, as I read a story originally found on The Spohrs Are Multiplying I am reminded of the art and heart (heart?) of nursing in which empathy and compassion are at the center.  Heather and Mike Spohr recount the experience they had in the NICU with their daughter Maddie and the post beautifully illustrates some of what it means to be a nurse.

Sometimes throughout our shifts as nurses it is very easy to slip into sterile, clinical mode.  We speak in a coded language designed to allow us to give reports quickly and efficiently in order to maximize our time and all of this leads to that sterile, clinical nurse that we have all become at some point.  It is easy to do; we get busy, we have medications to give, treatments to administer, doctors to follow-up with, charting to do, and on the most hectic of days we believe that we barely have the time to stop for a few minutes to offer warmth to our patients to let them know that we care.  In my short time as a nurse I have learned how to incorporate and convey that compassion even amid the chaos and have been validated by the kind words of patients and their families.  It is not a big deal to us, it is simply what a nurse does, but those small gestures can be huge gestures to patients and their family members especially when they are scared and hurting.

Mike Spohr discovered just that during the five years that his daughter was in and out of the intensive care unit.  He says

It was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that I first saw how amazing nurses can be…Each morning I called the NICU at seven a.m. to get an update from Maddie’s night nurse about how she had done through the night, and the moments waiting for her to pick up the phone were horrible…she would always tell us about Maddie’s night in great detail despite having just finished a long, exhausting shift.

The simple gesture of taking the time to tell Mike about his daughter in great detail, at the very end of the shift, when there was still, no doubt, much to be done, put Mike at ease.  There are not very many professions where you will find people ready and willing to give you as much time as you need when they themselves have absolutely no time to spare.  I admit, sometimes talking to a family is the last thing that I want to do when there is so much more to be done, but it is something I do with great care because they often have no idea what happened the prior day with their loved one.  Family members can not be there all day, everyday, but we are there so I always make sure that I am careful to give families the time they need to know their loved one is being cared for.  For a family to know that their loved one is being loved in return is a monumental thing.

Mike goes on to discuss the love and humanity conveyed by these nurses

Like the NICU nurses, these nurses showed Maddie so much love, mooning over how cute she was and making faces at her to keep her entertained.

There, sitting on a chair with a single tear rolling down her cheek, was my nurse. Her tear told me that she cared.

His final thoughts in closing

To Nurses everywhere… You should know that you have made a difference to so many people in this world, my family included, and I cannot thank you enough.

Nurses do not get the opportunity to hear this very often.  Our patients come and go and we are not their first, or not even their last provider.  We are intermediaries, helping our patients find better health and comfort and once those goals are achieved they move on and we often move on as well, going to the next patient to provide the same care, compassion, empathy and love.  As a nurse I do not expect a “thank you” or get upset if someone does not say it, I do not even think about it because this is simply what I do, no thanks required.

I have said before, we typically offer something that no other member of the healthcare team offers.  We are with our patients for 8,12, or 16 hours a day so we owe it to ourselves and to our patients to practice not only with the science of nursing but with the heart of nursing as well.

Head over to The Spohrs Are Multiplying and read On the Wings of a Nightingale, you will be grateful that you did but be forewarned, it left a lump in my throat.


Elevating the Nursing Profession: Being a Smarter Nurse

6 June, 2013 § 3 Comments

Source: Penn Nursing

Source: Penn Nursing

Nursing, as a profession, has come a long way in our practice, knowledge, and skills.  Long gone are the days of nurses assisting in procedures such as  blood letting, instead Nurse Researchers have fashioned and implemented the science of nursing based on.  No longer do nurses take a subservient role in patient care, instead we advocate for our patients, double check the orders and procedures to ensure they are safe for the patient and protect the patient as the first line caregivers.  We are no longer the lowest on the totem pole, but instead we are equal members of the healthcare team giving input based on our own evidence based practices to influence the best possible outcome.  Today Nurses and the Nursing profession is smarter, and more autonomous overall, with advanced nurse practitioners, doctors of nursing,  and specialty certifications.  It is not uncommon for people to have a Nurse Practitioner as their Primary Care Provider nor is it uncommon for Nurse Practitioners to have their name next to the Medical Doctor in a practice, sharing in the ownership.  Nurses come out of school having learned the newest theories and practice guidelines based on, you guessed it, scientific research done by nurses.  Throughout our careers we continue to learn, adapt, and implement the practices that will best achieve the goals that the healthcare team and our patients have set.

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