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Doesn’t That Scare You?

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Image: Monica Rodriguez | Digital Vision | Getty Images

We nurses never give a second thought to the rigors and challenges of our jobs. We don’t consider the ‘dangers’ of our jobs while we are performing our various duties. We live, eat and breathe in a world where life and death hang in a very delicate balance. The battle to improve our patient’s condition is a 24 hour job. Our minute-to-minute triumphs are trumped every time we put out one fire to have 3 more started. I think we get so caught up in the ‘running’ that we forget what kind of a race we are in.

“Gowning up to take care of patients. Doesn’t that scare you?” This was a question asked by a neighboring patient on my unit the other day. He was on the road to recovery – in fact he had his “walkin’ papers.” He was doing so well that he could transfer out of the ICU whenever a bed became available.

He had been sitting in a bedside chair for most of my shift – entertaining visitors, taking laps around the unit for exercise, catching a brief cat-nap here and there, as well as keeping a watchful eye on me and other members of my unit. I guess he was really taking it all in when he asked me that question.

“What do you mean by scared?” I kindly replied. (At this point I wasn’t exactly sure what he was implying with his quizzical comment).

This kind gentlemen began sharing a brief story of a family member who acquired ‘some bug’ while they were in the hospital. And this ‘bug’ is what killed them – according to his story.

“The bugs aside, how do you do it? How do you keep up with all the stuff you nurses have to do?”

He was replaying and rewinding the days activities for me. He was noticing how many times we ‘ran’ up and down the aisle fetching this, grabbing that, catching this, cleaning that, answering the phone, talking with all the doctors, etc. “I swear I lost count how many times I saw you run pass my door” – he laughs as he points at me.

“Yeah, we do have a job that keeps us quite busy,” (I was remembering back on the day thinking about just HOW busy things were. And I humbly and silently chuckled at how much slower today was than most).

“It’s our job to make sure you get in, get better, and get outta here!” as I chuckled back to him.

“You nurses are angels. All of you. My hats off to you for all this stuff you have to learn, and all this stuff you have to do. You got to be pretty smart to be a nurse don’tcha? I mean we’re talking about peoples lives here.”

I smiled from ear to ear, “I’d like to think so”.

As I was gathering myself to move on to my next task of the day I put my hand on this patient’s shoulder, “Be sure to share your thoughts with those you know. We always like to hear patients who are appreciative of our efforts”.

“Are you kidding?! I’ve told everyone that I’ve talked to so far.”

“Well Thank You. Now, I got to get back to my running – let’s just make sure we don’t see you back here OK?”

I winked and moved on – but inside I was having a mini party in my mind.

That patient had made my day. Heck, he had made my week.

The next time you’re curious as to why I’m a nurse, as to why ANYONE became a nurse.

The answer: patients like this one.

I love my job.

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Sean Dent

Sean Dent is a second-degree nurse who has worked in telemetry, orthopedics, surgical services, oncology and at times as a travel nurse. He is a CCRN certified critical care nurse where he's worked in cardiac, surgical as well as trauma intensive care nursing. After five years practicing as an RN, Sean pursued and attained his Masters of Science in Nursing. Sean currently practices as a Board Certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC) in a Shock Trauma urban teaching hospital. He has been in healthcare for almost 20 years. He originally received a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sport Science where he worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
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5 Responses to Doesn’t That Scare You?

  1. It’s funny just how much a simple thank you works as far as making you want to come back to work the next day…

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Steve It’s these moments I look forward to the most!

  3. Deb

    It is true about the race. As we run in the race we don’t realize the delicate care we do deliver. Thanks to all patients that remind us.

  4. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Deb Very well said. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. This is a great story. It dosen’t happen enough. My biggest concern is the violence that healthcare givers are receiving. Is anyone else concerned about it?