How Do You Really Thank a Nurse?
I honestly don’t know if it’s possible to thank nurses for everything they do. And I’m not sure one week is enough.
I’ve been thinking about nurses because this is National Nurses Week and even though there are a lot of gifted clinicians involved in health care, nurses probably have the closest interaction with people during their care. They prepare you for surgery. They give you a flu shot. They check your medicine cabinets to see if you have been taking your meds at home. They explain what will happen during the clinical trial. They conduct a class on diabetes care. They monitor your emotions and behaviors. They report your intake and output. They start your IV. And the list goes on and on.
But nurses do more than the clinical tasks associated with medical care. I think because they work so closely and so regularly with their patients, they tend to notice things others might not. I think this is what makes nursing a calling and not an occupation. I know of a nurse who worked at an anticoagulant clinic here in town. She had finished with her patient and was walking with her to the exit when she noticed the woman didn’t look right. She asked several questions but the patient insisted she was fine. Having cared for the women for some time, the nurse just knew something wasn’t right. She convinced her to go to the emergency room and, to make a long story short, saved the woman’s life.
Another nurse was tending to a hospital patient when he revealed the next day was his wedding anniversary and how he wished he could do something for his wife. After her shift ended, the nurse drove to the store, picked out a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a card, for which she paid with her own money, drove back to the hospital and gave to the man to give to his wife the next day, their anniversary.
And in yet another example that still moves me to this day, a daughter who had just made the difficult decision to put her mother in an Alzheimer unit at a retirement community said of the nurses, “These people here. They really care. When I look in their faces, I feel like I’m looking in the face of God.” I don’t think I could ever come up with a better compliment for nurses.
These are only three of millions of stories of nurses caring beyond medicine. And I understand this same kindness is exhibited by other professionals such as teachers, social workers, animal shelter staff and more. I think in healthcare, the knowledge and compassion of nurses is especially appreciated because when you are ill, you are in one of your most vulnerable states. You are putting complete trust, and sometimes your life, in the hands of the nurse who is probably sitting or standing next to you, with his or her arm around your shoulder, assuring you that everything will be okay.
Thank you nurses.