If you’ve ever wanted to quit nursing, you’re not alone. The last two years have been particularly excruciating for healthcare workers. Budget cuts, unsafe working conditions, and disrespectful patients would be enough to make anyone consider looking for another job.
But nursing can also be a tremendously rewarding experience. Some nurses stay in the field for years because they know they are making a difference in the lives of their patients. To break up all the bad news that’s been swirling around the industry, we asked millions of providers to share their most positive memories of nursing, and their responses are sure to melt your heart.
I met a little girl when she came into the ER. She had cancer. We connected right away. I took care of her quite often. The following year her parents brought her to the ER just so I could see that her hair grew back, and she was so cute! She always hugged me whenever she came in. I will always remember her.💓
I remember a very special baby in our PICU. They had serious heart issues that could only be fixed with a transplant. He was six weeks old, and nothing looked good. The parents were notified to come in and hold their child, when the cardiac thoracic surgeon came in with an idea of how to make a shelf in his heart with a gortex graft, a 12-hour surgery.
On the way back in the elevator, I couldn’t feel the femoral pulse and notified everybody. I remember the cardiologist saying it’s just the monitor, but it was the pulse. It became known as the ‘elevator code’.
He was a miracle. He survived and went home. I had always wondered how he had done and if he had still lived. Several years later, in another town I looked on the schedule and saw the same name! The same miracle child who we thought we had given a few more years was coming in for a junior high physical.
What a small, beautiful world.
There are 3 patients in my whole career (I’m retired now) that were giving up on life and I used an unconventional, non-textbook, non-classroom approach and every one of them perked up, recovered and were discharged from the hospital.
Of all my patients, they were the only ones I stepped away from ‘educated nursing’ and went with old school compassion and caring; each individual got a little different approach, but all were successful outcomes. Nothing inappropriate, just not part of what is considered nursing practice.
Most of the folks I cared for were elderly, many who had dementia and/or Alzheimer’s, so things they said or did could be rather bizarre.
I’ll never forget the guy who decided to leave his room naked with only a hand towel strategically held across his hips. When he realized I had caught him escaping his room, he stopped, cocked his hip, did a little wiggle, and said: “Tahiti or Hawaii?” 😂 He was one of our more entertaining residents.
I ran into someone at the grocery store who immediately recognized me, I didn’t know who she was at first, but she thanked me for taking care of her husband before he passed away. It had been a long time, but she remembered me.
I remember a connection with a young cancer patient when I was a baby nurse. It was amazing! She was admitted frequently over 2 years. She encouraged me through my own infertility (we shared the same story). She told her husband she needed to know I was pregnant before she could die. She prayed for me while dying. I told her I was pregnant and said if I have a girl, she will have your name. She said no, you will have 1 boy. She was right!
She died 24 hours later. Later, I saw her husband in public with my new little boy. He picked him up, hugged him tight and said that he was so special since his wife made this happen. My son is 28 now, a dad to three more boys!
Her prayers worked. It was a life changing relationship, I never forgot her.
Whenever I was thinking about calling it quits and a patient or family member comes to visit you to thank you for the care you gave.
The amazing, surprising, caring, loving, outrageous, inventive, tireless, supportive co-workers who became lifelong friends.
And the patients and families who taught me so much about life and death and everything in between. Wouldn’t trade it for anything.
While taking care of a comfort care patient, I would walk into the patient’s room and the atmosphere was sad. The family was either sitting quietly or crying.
I explained that hearing is one of the last senses to go. I asked about the patient, his life, or funny stories. I encouraged them to talk to him and relive those memories.
After that discussion, the atmosphere completely changed. Multiple times throughout my shift, I would walk in to hear giggles or wonderful stories about the life he lived.
Yes, it was a sad situation, but letting the family know it was ok to talk to him, chat about the life he led, and laugh about the memories, helped everyone get through the most difficult day of their lives…saying goodbye to a loved one.
A patient hugged me as a thank you and a goodbye before they passed away. I saw them through some tough times.
I started my career in a cardiac floor and then became a hospice nurse. One of my hospice patients had been one of my cardiac patients. She told me that I had always been a great nurse and she trusted me to help her have a good end of life.
There are little ones every day. Last night, I was caring for a dementia patient who is on the extreme end of memory loss. He couldn’t form a sentence. He was disheveled and looked ready to drop from exhaustion. He couldn’t follow my guidance to help him lie on his bed and hopefully fall asleep. I saw a big photo of him and his wife by the window.
It was recent, so I picked it up and showed him. He fairly lit up, even the other nurse with me commented on his face. He said, “She’s pretty,” meaning his wife. I will tell her that when I see her. It was a good moment to witness.
Thank you to everyone who shared their stories online. These comments have been edited for length and clarity.