I had switched jobs — not only type of nursing but health system as well. I loved where I left and loved even more where I came to. I started out my nursing career in an emergency department, which was where I had been throughout college, which is very different than the basic nursing we are all taught in nursing school, and very different than med-surg nursing. Since you are with patients for a short time, you don’t get that one-on-one bonding with the family you get in med-surg since you typically receive the same assignment day-in and day-out as long as you are working. That’s one of the big differences. But there are always the instances where you have special encounters with patients and you realize that it doesn’t matter what type of nursing you do, you still come into contact with patients who you not only make a difference in their life but ones who make a difference in yours.
I had had a patient/family who was very emotional with new diagnoses and issues being hospitalized, so needless to say, she was very vulnerable. I remember caring for them at change of shift, so all I mainly did was start an IV and draw bloods and do an assessment. Within that 15-minute time frame, I was able to sit down at the bedside and interact with them as I did what I needed to do. When I left, the patient’s wife was in tears and “had” to give me a hug “even though [she] wasn’t supposed to” just because of the compassion, time, and attention I had devoted to them during such a difficult time.
About 5 months later, I was at my new job on a night shift. I was at the nurses’ station and someone had popped their head around and said, “Wait! I know you! Oh my goodness!” and put her hands to her mouth and got teary eyed. We both remembered each other. This time she was there with her father, so again it was another emotional time for her. She proceeded to let me know how happy it had made her feel to see me during such a difficult time and continued to reiterate to all of my coworkers how amazing I was that first time I took care of her family.
This woman having remembered the impact I had on her and her family, along with praising me to my new coworkers about something so personal was a very fulfilling experience to reflect back on why I became a nurse. Everyone hears people, particularly nurses, say how they’re always reminded why they chose this profession, and this is one of the simplest and purest examples of why. I have been in the field of nursing for about 3 years (working as nurse for 1) and have experienced many, many joys and reinforcements as to why I became a nurse, but this interaction is the one that will leave a smile on my face for a lifetime. People aren’t lying when they say to “do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Sydney Adelstein is 2016 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Nursing.