Monday, February 15, 2010

A compliment a day does wonders for the self-esteem...

"You're a nurse." She said it in a somewhat awestruck way, as if it were something she hadn't encountered yet during her 4 days of hospitalization. She was in her mid 80s, here for sepsis and trouble with breathing. Standard-issue patient on our floor.

"Um, I try to be..." I said confusedly, worried that she was sundowning.

"No, I mean it. You're a real nurse. No one has done that for me the entire time I've been here." I was busy tidying up her bed, and untangling the phone and call light cords while she sat on the commode after finishing her business. "Huh? Fix your bed up?"

"No. Cleaned me."

I had just come to help her off the commode, and I noticed some old soiled toilet paper stuck to her backside, and various other substances that needed addressing. So I got a warm washcloth and some soap and gave her backside a decent scrubbing while she balanced holding onto my other arm and shoulder. Really basic nursing school stuff. Patient is dirty? Clean her up.

I was a little shocked to hear it, so I clarified. "No one has helped you clean up after the bathroom since you got here?" "Nope," she replied. "Yesterday I called for help and no one came for 45 minutes. I was watching the clock"

I apologized profusely on behalf of whatever nurse was responsible for that incredible lack of care. Personally, if I can't be there to help my patient within 5 minutes, I send someone else. And if that person can't be there, I will make myself un-busy to help (barring an emergency situation, of course).

"Don't worry about it honey. You're doing a great job, and you're a wonderful nurse. Thank you."

It made my day. And the next few days, I got compliments from patients and family members each day.

"You're a good nurse."
"I'm glad I have you as my nurse again."
"You're kind and efficient. You're good at what you do."

One of my friends recently commented that the way I write this blog, it sounds as if my job always sucks. I told him that the shitty things make for better stories. No one wants to hear, "I did my assessments, passed my medications, charted, wrote a couple notes, and made sure my patients were comfortable." Crazy people and wacky adventures are where it's at.

But when something good and uplifting does happen, dammit I'm gonna share it :)


  1. I've gotten the same type of responses to my blog posts ("Your job sounds so depressing" or "I dont know how you get through the day- your job sounds terrible".

    I dont think my job is depressing or terrible. I just write about the things that I think are interesting to read. When my patient tells me that I was their favorite nurse they've ever had it almost sounds a little too egotistical to post (often). :)

  2. I worried about the ego thing before posting, but I've really needed a boost of nursing confidence lately. My patient demographic is very difficult to work with, and there's a lot of drama going on with the hospital right now.

    I had to post it, if only as a reminder that good things do happen sometimes.