I recently contributed to an upcoming article about college degrees and real world jobs. College students, whether right out of high school or adults returning to college commonly share one factor: not knowing what to fully expect once you earn the degree.
This week is Nurses Week and it made me think about my misconceptions about the profession. Until about a decade, I honestly did not know the full extent of the work that they do at costs mentally, emotionally and physically.
What I had previously known of nursing was the people that came in, gathered relevant information, took vitals and occasionally poked me with needles. They were always very pleasant, even with me having a thing about needles.
But when my son’s father was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 that changed. These dedicated professionals still did the information gathering and vitals, but they did so much more.
They were the ones that when family was not there to provide support gave him encouragement. They listened sympathetically to the heartache of the pain when there was nothing that they could do; they cheered for each positive step that achieved as much as the family.
They took the time to get to know the family, they would talk directly with my son, not to him or down to him or ignore him – but engage him and gladly answer any question he had. They learned our routines and how best to communicate with us.
They supported my son and I as much as his father. They were patient and kind even when we weren’t due to fear or frustration. I used to bring in treats for them every week just as a simple gesture of saying thank you.
They all came in to give hugs when he was released with good news. And they all came to visit him a few weeks later when he was admitted into the CCU. Word spread quickly that he was in dire shape and every single nurse that had taken care of him through the battle with cancer each came to spend time with him and watch over him during their breaks, before or after their shifts.
Again, they gave support, encouragement and hugs – even when he wasn’t technically their patient anymore. But that is another thing I learned, he would always be their patient. I saw the worry and concern on their faces, answered their questions about how he was and the family. They were my second support system.
They again cheered and gave hugs when he was again released with good news.
It has been 13 years and I still have such deep gratitude for these wonderful professionals. It went well beyond medical care – it was empathy, compassion, concern, encouragement, faith and hope.
When considering a career or career change make sure you do your homework to really understand not just the duties, but all the affects of the job. It will give you a clearer direction in your path.
And this week – be sure to thank any nurse you know. A lot of us have our sanity and health thanks to them!
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW