I worked at a hospital a few years ago, and had this patient that seemed to be discontent with EVERYTHING from the minute I walked into the room and introduced myself. He felt that no one could understand his needs and no matter how hard the staff tried, nothing was ever good enough for him. The pain meds never worked. He stated that we left him nauseas “for hours” and that we never answered the call light. The food was always bad. His cup never had enough ice. The room was always too hot or too cold, and our beds were the most uncomfortable beds that he had ever slept in. While he was explaining all of this, CNN was on TV talking about innocent people’s heads being chopped off in a foreign country just because they wouldn’t join a terrorist group. You would think that watching and hearing such awful news in that moment would put things into perspective for this man, but instead,
he actually asked me to turn the volume down because our TV’s were too loud. I had about HAD it with this patient, especially when my knowledge and skill was questioned and belittled by him.
I saw one of the leadership members walking down the hall, and I was so relieved that someone finally was coming to help me out and set this man straight. NO ONE should have to take this kind of hit as a nurse. The leadership member walked straight up to me and informed me she had called Patient Relations. There was no, “How are you doing?” There was no, “I know this is so hard, I’m here to help so let me know what you need!” There was no “We’re going to get through this, you’re doing awesome! This man is extremely difficult and we’re going to do the best we can to make a plan and get this under control.” It was all about patient satisfaction. Let’s call patient advocacy so we can please this man and tend to his unreasonable needs even more. I was livid to say the least.
I left 1.5 hours late that night. I was given attitude by the oncoming nurse about certain things that didn’t get done (that could be done within 24 hours), and the only resolution to that situation was Patient Relations bringing this man a “recovery package” and creating a 30 minute rounding schedule that we had to sign off between nurse and tech, as if this was going to help “restore satisfaction.” It’s all about getting the hospital the score that they need to be reimbursed! Who cares that the nurse was completely run ragged and disrespected greatly along the way. Not only did this mans needs over work me that day, but it compromised the quality of care for the other patients I was tending to! Just completely unacceptable!
This was an extreme situation, but similar situations like this one happen EVERY day to nurses, and we get so tired and exhausted from it. There is more tending to the patients and advocating for their unreasonable needs, and less support for the nurses and all of the hard work that they do day in and day out to make a difference and keep their patients alive and safe! Only in America does the quality of their food and time it takes to return their call bell outweigh the kind gestures and safe care that the nurse implements every day. There are days where we don’t get adequate breaks and rarely sit down! It’s absolutely EXHAUSTING!
The Moments That Keep Your Nurse Heart Beating!
There once was this patient that I met months ago who I took care of after they had a massive heart attack called a STEMI (ST Elevated Myocardial Infarction). This patient took a VERY hard hit from this attack and had been in my care for the last 2 days of his stay in the hospital. I got to know he and his family very well. He had no medical history prior to his attack, so this all came as a giant shock. I got to spend a lot of my time with them, educating them on the disease and how the heart attack most likely happened. We went over pathophysiology, risk factors, disease processes, and many other related topics.
I was so excited about how receptive they were. For every meal, she brought him something lean and green. When I walked in to pass his meds one morning, they were looking up gym memberships! I kind of giggled and we talked about starting easy and slow. He had lived a sedentary life style, fast food almost every day, and I just wanted to make sure we were meeting him where he was. I feel like when you take on something dramatically different from what you WERE doing, you are at more risk to quit! We went over some short term and long term goals. They were so appreciative and thankful for my time! It was a complete pleasure to take care of this family, and I will never forget it!
I came into work a week later and a little gift was sitting in the charge nurses office with my name on it. There was a little hand lotion, Starbucks gift card, and a note to go along with it. It was basically thanking me for their care and how much I made an impact on their stay. They thanked me for my “expertise” and she (his wife who wrote the card) told me that they go to the gym together a few times a week and they started taking cooking classes at Whole Foods ( I told them about this)!!! “WHAT THE HECK?!” That doesn’t happen, yall! But it did, and it was
so cool FLIPPING AWESOME!!!
It’s stories and experiences like this one that make me LOVE what I do. Getting a letter thanking me for my time, knowledge, and care makes my WEEK! THIS is why I do what I do. To CHANGE lives. To TOUCH lives. To SAVE LIVES!! Taking care of patients who truly appreciate what we do, keeps my nursing heart beating. This is one of many beautiful nursing stories that sticks out in my mind!
The Love/Hate Of Bedside Nursing
I meet gracious patients and families like the story above, every single week that leave me feeling fulfilled and satisfied. I have walked families through illness and death. I have befriended them outside of the hospital. I have attended funerals of patients who I loved and have touched my life. I will go above and beyond to make sure I am attentive to the needs of my patients and families who are truly in need, because I REALLY really do care! It leaves me feeling fulfilled and gives me purpose. It’s the reason that I keep coming back. I also meet patients and families like the first story that are extremely hard and difficult to work with. You would think in dealing with both of these that it would equal out, and you would be able to stay put and not leave because at least you are getting kind words and gracious patients who DO appreciate you. But let me tell you why it’s hard…
Those “positive and good” patient experiences DO make me stay around. They are the oxygen to my nursey heart! As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true! I LOVE making people happy and working hard to make sure they are safe and adequately taking care of! I take my job very seriously. What is SO hard and difficult to digest is the lack of support in the workplace. I truly feel that during those difficult and hard times of being short staffed, difficult patients, and NO support, it hits a sore spot like NO OTHER. It makes me want to run, and say “HECK WITH ALL YALL!” Seriously though, it can get to that point.
The Deep, Internal Desire To Be Appreciated and Supported!
I really wish hospitals would focus more on nurse advocacy. Not just just one week a year, but every single day! These questions need to be asked: How can we better appreciate our nurses? What little things can we do on daily basis to say “thank you?” How can we encourage the nurses during those hard days and hard situations and reassure them that they are doing great, but just work with us to get through this situation… As a leader, how can I support my nurses better? I get so passionate about how I wish things could work. I feel there is so much potential in EVERY workplace!
Every day that I go to work, at least ONCE, I struggle with just wanting to be done and thinking about an easier non-bedside job. I have worked in the ED. I’ve worked in outpatient procedural. They all have their good and bad. No job is perfect. But there is a reason I don’t leave the bedside, despite my thoughts every day.
I LOVE the good days. I LIVE for those moments where I “fix” a problem or help a patient get “x,y,or z” under control. I LOVE to educate. There is NO better feeling in the world than truly taking the best care of a patient ALL day, having gone through some ups and downs, but really getting to know them and leaving with a genuine “THANK YOU SO MUCH, WILL YOU BE BACK TOMORROW?” Giving my service, knowledge, and using my skill towards others is an absolute PLEASURE and JOY!
Yet I Keep Coming Back For More….
As a bedside nurse, I walk people through their day. I watch a patient go from bad to good and vice versa. I help take part in that. I fight for my patients. I advocate for them. It’s a “feel good” like no other. I leave work absolutely exhausted. I say a few choice words under my breath every single day. I sometimes want to run and never come back…..but then I remember all of these good things. This is real life struggle. This is every day nursing for me.
There is a lot I want to change and a lot that NEEDS to be changed. Every day I want to leave, but I just can’t. I love what I do so much. So much that it hurts sometimes. I want to see this profession grow and become a more quality workplace for its frontline soldiers!
Let’s strive to make this position a better place for us all. Love on each other. Be helpful. Be patient. Be kind. Do not bully. Do not speak disrespectfully or negative towards one another. When you see someone struggling with a hard patient, go be their back bone. Encourage them, love them, and cheer them on. We all struggle in our days. It’s the reality of what we do. And despite everyday having thoughts of wanting to leave, I keep coming back….
This is real life nursing……
Your Heart Is Mine,