“We gave him love”: Katie Duke on compassion in nursing

No nurse is without his or her own opinions or frustrations, but a good nurse treats every patient with an inherent sense of dignity and grace, regardless of whether they’re well-to-do or down-and-out, stubborn or responsive, grateful or unappreciative.

In this week’s episode of “The Katie Duke Show” on ScrubsBeat, Katie reinforces the importance of compassion, sharing a meaningful experience of her own to demonstrate how reserving judgment can help nurses see their patients (and their circumstances) in a new, and more honest, light.

Nurses—have you had a patient you may have been hesitant to treat who drastically shifted your perspective? Tell us about the lesson you learned from this encounter in the comments section below.

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Katie Duke


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2 Responses to “We gave him love”: Katie Duke on compassion in nursing

  1. tom combs

    My FB friend. Lisa Green, an awesome ER nurse from Alabama shared this story. She allowed me to share it with others:
    “One of my saddest and proudest moments as a nurse occurred 10 years ago when Hurricane Katrina hit and in the aftermath. I was night shift charge nurse at Piedmont ER in Atlanta. Christine XXXX and Renée XXXX were both working with me during that time. I so remember when i received the call that the refugees were landing at Dobbins Air Force and asking how many patients could we accept. Of course we were short staffed. We went into disaster mode- cleared out the ER. Slowly these refugees arrived. Some were patients from hospitals, others were injured and had not received any treatments. Our team of 4 Nurses and 1 Doctor came together and we treated and stabilized.
    The stories that we were told by these refugees/patients were exactly like CNN reported. They were hungry and scared- only had what clothing was on their back. I remember that Christine, Renee and I pooled our money and walked across Peachtree to CVS and bought underwear, other clothing articles whatever we could think of to give to the family members that were evacuated and not patients. When we left work that morning, the three musketeers (Christine, Renee and I) looped our arms together and walked out to our cars -crying our hearts out. We said to each other- This is why we became nurses and work in the ER. We truly made a difference in somebody’s life.”
    When I told Lisa the story was inspiring and truly heart-warming she responded “Wow. I had no idea. Just what we do.”

  2. susanjt4

    As a victim of sexual molestation my last patient assignment in RN school was a convicted child abuser. I knew that my challenge was going to be big. The other nursing students refused care, citing beliefs.
    I knew that it was going to challenge my healing.

    I cared for him. Tenderly, with love, acceptance and forgiveness. I never once saw him as a criminal, or an animal. I cared for him with dignity, and respect. He was dying and needed my care- I chose to give him my best- and he, in turn allowed me to minister to his needs.
    I think he knew I was a victim with healing scars and he and I were gentle, tentative and functional.
    My three days with him were his last living days. And while nurses turned away from him, I turned towards him.

    It didn’t matter his crime. He was dying, scared, alone, cast off by all.

    I took off my student scrubs and came back as a visitor, sat with him, held his hands, wiped his tears.
    Maybe I was too involved, but deep in my spirit I knew this man needed someone to soothe his agony.

    I’ve never regretted this. As an adult survivor of molestation and rape, I had one goal. To let him feel loved. And in turn- he helped me heal.
    He taught me that compassion means loving- with no rancor. Tending with no judgement.

    I admit, when I took the assignment, I believed that my own pain would weight my care.
    It didn’t. Instead, I had a chance to care for two broken people. And he died holding my hand, not judged or afraid. He died knowing that one dumb young nurse, faced her fears and gave her best. He died with my forgiveness as a gift.

    We so often turn away from things and people that insult our beliefs. The poor broken child I was gave love to a man that had brought nothing but pain.

    I think of him when I care for inmates or junkies. He built my first bridge of compassion. He made me believe in my vocation.

    He created me as a nurse. Because of him- I can leave my issues at the door and nurse the patient and not hold hatred in my heart. Because of him- I healed my own broken places and learned to love without reserve.

    I learned unconditional love. And he died knowing one person loves him.

    No regrets.