My big lesson in compassion as a nurse


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’s it really like to be a nurse? The inspiring film “A Nurse I Am” answers that question by featuring four compassionate, caring nurse role models who are deeply committed to their patients and profession.

Every year, Cherokee Uniforms holds a scholarship program based on the film. Entrants are asked to write an essay in response to “A Nurse I Am,” and the 10 winners each receive a $2000 scholarship to put toward their nursing education. Here’s one of the winning essays.

 My big lesson in compassion as a nurse

When I first read the title of the Cherokee Uniforms program, A Nurse I Am, I thought it was an odd choice of word construction; however, after watching both videos, I quickly realized it could not have been more fitting. Each video’s message was that nursing is not a profession where you take off a uniform after a day’s shift, but rather something you are–it’s your make-up as a person; it’s in your DNA. The nurses highlighted and awarded in the videos embodied everything a nurse should stand for.

I appreciated the condensed version because it was subtitled which allowed me to play back certain words in my mind, such as “communication” and “patient advocate.” The longer video was also excellent, and it dug deeper so that one could fully experience a nurses’ day-to-day patient care.

The two nurses who stood out for me are Mona Counts and Bob Wilkinson. It was obvious from the interviews from patients, peers and family that Mona Counts was a completely dedicated nurse. Seeing the shortage of healthcare and lack of economic resources, Mona took it upon herself to establish a healthcare clinic, and even took out a second mortgage to finance it. Helping others was in her blood; it was who she was as a person, and it never left her regardless of her surroundings. She displayed warmth and caring for patients and people in general by taking the time to get to know them, their backgrounds, environment and family. She recognized their fears and valued their thoughts and feelings.

Mona provided an accurate portrayal of genuine concern by taking the time out of her day to do home visits. She made sure her patients’ safety was being looked after by making sure they had all the information needed regarding their healthcare regardless of economic situation. She displayed excellence in her care by going that extra step of not only providing care for her patients’ physical needs but also their whole personal well-being. This was displayed by doing something as simple as taking a few minutes to share some photographs or offer assistance for a legal matter. I hope to have as much love and dedication as Mona does in my future.

Bob Wilkinson also stood out to me for a number of reasons. As a male studying to be a nurse myself, Bob’s experience gave me the added reassurance that this career is not selected by one’s gender but rather by one’s unswerving desire to comfort others. Although it was evident that each nurse gave of himself or herself completely, I respected Bob’s more delicate area of practice.

In addition to assisting doctors with treatment, Bob had the added complexity of helping children face possibly death, yet it was clear by his tone, gestures, and words that compassion was his focus. He understood that he was not just caring for one child but caring for a whole family sharing a difficult time. He was perceptive of their discomforts and mental attitudes and truly wanted to help relieve them as a whole. He demonstrated his concern for the safety of his patients by double-checking with doctors regarding medication being dispensed.

Bob clearly put himself in his patients’ shoes by doing all the little things to help them cope with their situation, things such as finding that perfect toy or making them laugh. The fact that he gave his own personal Army award to a patient he felt was more deserving speaks wonders about his character as a person and human being. I can only hope to be as compassionate a nurse as Bob is some day.

I hope to combine the positive attributes of the nurses in the films with my personal experience. I will ensure that the patients I look after are treated with the same dignity and care I would want for myself or a family member. I will remind myself every day that a good nurse cares for a patient’s physical needs, but a great nurse cares for the patient’s whole well-being , physical and mental. I will strive to be an advocate and voice for my patient’s recovery and fully communicate with all parties involved. I hope all my future actions will prove that nursing is a not just a career choice, but rather who I am as a person.

By Barbarito Rodriguez

Read more inspiring essays by the 2012 winners of A Nurse I Am Scholarship Program here.

Caption: Barbarito Rodriguez–St. Phillips College

Sponsored by Cherokee Uniforms

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