Choosing a career in nursing may seem overwhelming, especially while you are starting an accelerated nursing program and trying to battle through classes, exams, and skills labs. However, once you start your nursing clinical experience, you will begin experiencing the rewards of nursing, much like our guest blogger.
Nursing is such a unique profession. We are afforded the ability to enhance lives and encourage wellness. We witness miracles in life, and we witness miracles in death. We have the ability to have strong, emotional connections with coworkers who become family, we create lasting memories, some bittersweet, with our patients and our patient’s family members, and we are also afforded the opportunity to bless countless lives.
The rewards of nursing are numerous. However, there are some amazing highlights.
That ability to affect someone’s life positively is unique to only a few professional individuals. On a daily basis, I have the opportunity to help others, to inspire. To heal and promote wellness. It is an occupation that is more of a ministry, I feel.
The first time I had what is known as a terminal wean—that is when it is determined there isn’t more that can be done for someone, and the family decides to withdraw care to allow for a natural death—I was shaken up.
It was such an overwhelmingly sad situation; his family was crying, his wife lay in bed with him playing songs from their wedding 50 years ago. I did my best not crying in front of the family and waited until I was alone to do that. With the actual process of the patient dying, it is the nurse’s responsibility to make sure the patient isn’t suffering; we have standing orders for various medications that will hopefully provide some type of comfort for them in their time of death.
I was shaken up, and a veteran nurse pulled me aside and gave me some advice that I’ll always remember. She said,
“It is a blessing to be a part of anyone’s birth, and equally a blessing to be a part of their death. You have an opportunity to provide comfort to not only the patient but to the family. Be kind, be attentive, and be mindful of your words and actions.”
I went back in the room, made my self more emotionally available to the family, and spoke softly and kindly.
Weeks after the man passed away, his wife and adult children came back to my unit with flowers and cake. They wanted to thank me for the kindness I bestowed upon them and their loved one at the times of his death.
Working in critical care, I unfortunately have to terminally wean often. However, it is always with the same amount of kindness and compassion. I am the one who benefits from thereon after; I am profoundly rewarded with knowing I’ve done the absolute best I could for someone, that I was able to be there for them in their hour of need.
It is truly one of the most rewarding experiences, not only of nursing career, but also of my entire life.
One of my favorite things about nursing is getting to know the community. Whether you work, live, and serve in a small town or a big community, chances are you’ll always run into former patients and/or patients’ family members when you are out and about on your days off. It is so remarkable and rewarding when they not only know you by name (Becky!) but they want to hug you.
Recently, I was out grocery shopping, and a woman came up to me, exclaimed my name (Becky!) and hugged me. She pulled back from me, tears welling up in her brown eyes, and thanked me profusely.
Weeks earlier, I had been taking care of her father. He suddenly took an unexpected turn for the worse. After we ran through all the emergency testing, he was given a terminal diagnosis. It was so busy, and when the doctor came in to deliver the news, she had a complete look of unknowing across her face; I could tell she didn’t understand.
After he had left, I asked her if she understood what was happening, and she admitted she didn’t. With kindness, but firmness, I helped her to understand the severity of the situation. She cried, but thanked me for my honesty. In the grocery store, she shared with me that a few days later he went home with hospice care and died later that week.
She was grateful for my direct honestly towards her and the situation and was thankful that she was well informed, as she didn’t want to prolong any suffering with her father. It is so rewarding to know that my thoughts, words, and actions played such a significant role in this woman’s life.
Nursing is a profession that constantly gives back to me. I am rewarded every single day, in so many ways. I love what I do, and I am so blessed to have a job that is so rewarding.
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