A tribute to my nursing heroes of 2014


iStock | michaeljung

iStock | michaeljung

I’m not going to talk here about Amber Vincent or Nina Pham or the other nurses at the hospital in Texas who took care of Eric Duncan. I’m not going to mention the nurses who serve in the military, or who go overseas to care for patients with complex medical problems and without proper medical supplies.

I want to thank some other folks I don’t know instead.

Thank you, nurse who got up early after dealing with a sick kid most of the night, and who came in to work an extra shift so your coworkers wouldn’t be caught short. Again.

Thank you, nurse who got stuck charging on the telemetry unit with five patients of your own, and who managed to keep your stuff together for 13 long, hectic hours.

Thanks to the nurses on the rapid response team, who show up and are total bosses of any crazy situation. You guys make codes less necessary.

Thank you to the nurse who dealt with a precipitous delivery with grace and calm, and who handed that baby off to the doctor when she arrived, out of breath, after everything was over.

Thank you, nurse who took care of that patient on hospice or palliative care, and who ended up caring for the patient’s family as much as for the patient.

Thanks to the nurse who took the time to get certified on continuous dialysis, or pediatric life support, or any other complex, critical need, even though his unit doesn’t see those patients every day.

Thank you, nurse who helped another nurse turn and clean a patient for the umpteenth time today.

Thank you, nursing professor, for your patience and your knowledge base, and your willingness to work long hours for rotten pay. (And thank you for not counting off that one time when I edited a care plan badly.)

Thank you, agency nurse, for coming in to work at the least-well-staffed, most-insane units in the world.

Thanks to the nurse who noticed something was off, who listened to her gut, who called the doctor repeatedly until something got done for the patient.

Thanks to the nurse who gave up his own comfort and lunch in order to make sure everything went smoothly with a procedure.

Thank you, nurse who covers the call bells while her buddy eats and cycles her own fluids.

Thank you, nurse who manages other nurses and still gets in elbow-deep when the poop hits the fan.

Thank all y’all. Because of you, I am proud to call myself a nurse. Because of what I see every day, I still grin like a loon when I say, “I’m a nurse,” even after (mmumphm) years.

Happy holidays, everybody, and may you, at least occasionally, get the thanks you deserve!

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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