8 things this nurse learned from her patients

Ryan McVay | Digital Vision | Thinkstock

Our patients bring out the best and worst in us as nurses and as people.

Lately I have been thinking about all the things I have learned–not just from my coworkers, certifications and classes, or the work itself–but from my patients and their care. Nursing patients has taught me the art of:

(1) Patience. Funny how the more we deal with patients, the more we either gain or lose our patience. For myself, I find myself actually more patient with situations at work–I’ve learned to deal with difficult people and emergent situations in a calm way. Things that used to get me in a tizzy when I was a new nurse–like anesthesia not showing up for an epidural for 45 mins, or the pharmacy not sending up a med at the snap of my fingers–just does not affect me like it used to. I think in part it’s because I have learned…

(2) Shutting-up. We nurses love to talk and educate, but I’ve actually learned how to be a better, truly active listener from being a nurse. Sometimes I have to shut-up and get out of the way for a patient to truly get better. Then there is…

(3) Adaptation. We nurses are great at contingency plans. When something goes wrong–and it often does–we always have a plan B. Our patients demand adaptation from us–we learn how to go with the flow because we take care of them. And if we don’t know how to adapt, we start…

(4) Questioning. My patients ask me so many questions about their care that I in turn must question everything. Good nurses are always asking, “What is wrong with this picture” and “Why?” I have learned to ask questions in order to answer questions!

(5) Humility. And when I don’t have the answers for my patients, and when I can’t fix things, I have learned true humility. Also, how much more humbling can it be when we fail the ultimate goal of the nurse: keeping our patients alive? I have learned from my patients that there is no such thing as Super-Nurse. My patients have taught me how to say, “I don’t know” and follow up with…

(6) Learning. It is because of my patients–caring for them, answering their questions, solving problems related to them–that I continue to learn. Every shift has me gaining new knowledge, all because of the people I care for and their situations. When I stop learning, I stop being an effective nurse.

(7) Organization. Every patient environment directs me to be organized and detail oriented. Caring for a person has so many details, so many tidbits of info and so many to-do lists, that if I am not organized, I can actually kill someone. And most importantly, my patients have shown me the art of…

(8) Caring. What is true caring? It has little to do with saying nice things and giving pat answers and more to do with bringing everything I am to patient-care and giving my best to my work. Real caring is tiring because it requires my all, but it is fulfilling in that it results in a job well done. To really care for a patient, we nurses do our best to keep them alive, comfort them in illness and pain, and if death prevails, ensure our patients have peace at the end of their lives.

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Amy Bozeman

Amy is many things: a blogger, a nurse, a wife, a mom, a childbirth educator. She started her journey towards a career in nursing when she got pregnant with her first child. After nursing school and studying "like she has never studied before" she entered the nursing profession eager to get her feet wet. The first years provided her with much exposure to sadness, joy and other complex human emotions. She feels that blogging is a wonderful outlet and a way for nurse bloggers to further build their community. Traditionally, midwives have handed down their skill set from midwife to apprentice midwife. She believes nurses have this same opportunity: to pass from nurse to new nurse the rich traditions of this profession.

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