Stories of Florence Nightingale’s compassion, bravery, and leadership have shaped modern nursing and influenced and inspired millions. As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of her birth, we are honored to shine a light on today’s #NurseHeroes on the front lines by sharing some of their stories.
This is Kelly’s story.
Describe why you chose to become a nurse
It took me a while to figure out I wanted to become a nurse. When I was younger I used to watch “Trauma Life in the ER” and thought I wanted to become a doctor. I had an urge to help people, and I thought doctor was the way for me. Growing up I was always interested in the medical field, and being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 10 years old fed into that. Later I went to college for psychology and after I graduated and had friends in the nursing field who told me multiple times that I “missed my calling.” I am grateful I chose to go back to school for nursing. I honestly am not sure what else I would do.
Describe your most rewarding day on the job
It is hard to pick only one day that is the most rewarding. I find it the most rewarding when my patients are improving, and usually that happens over time. It is heartwarming seeing them go from their sickest to improving enough to communicate and transfer out of the ICU or even get discharged.
If I had to pick only one, it would be when I was working nights and a patient was transferred to the ICU and we ended up intubating them immediately. The person wasn’t answering questions and was only responsive to pain. Over the course of their stay they improved and were able to be discharged. I didn’t realized how much the first night I met that patient meant until the day before they left the ICU. The patient grabbed my wrist and said “You’re my angel! You saved my life! I remember your tattoo from the first night I was intubated, and you saved my life.”
The patient then pulled me into a hug. The patient told me they only remembered my cross tattoo on my wrist when I moved her over into the ICU bed and to her that meant the world. I later received a thank you card from the patient and their family thanking me and saying, I was their “angel and saved (their) life”. The combination of the day the patient hugged me and receiving the card were my most rewarding day. I realized how much my presence impacted that patient and it all began with my wrist. That story and patient has stuck with me. I realized how much I can impact a patient, a family, a person, etc. without even realizing it.
Describe your most challenging day on job
My most challenging day on the job was a first shift of four in a row. I had two intubated patients, and thank goodness for my great ICU team for taking care of my second patient as I was in my other patient’s room my entire shift. I was orienting another nurse and it took both of us to care for this patient. They had eight IV drips, on CRRT, intubated, receiving blood products, and more. That first day was the first of four long 12 hours shift without food, water, or bathroom breaks trying to save that patient’s life. I became invested. I was not only worried about my patient when I was working but when I was home trying to sleep in between shifts. That first shift and the three following were by far my most challenging days. Those are the days that are not only physically exhausting but mentally and emotionally exhausting. The job can take everything out of you on those days.
Do you have any nurse hacks or lessons learned in the field you would like to share with others?
If you have a confused patient that is not redirectable, calmly go along with the confusion. It will save frustration for the patient and you. It can also add some humor into the day.
For those looking for a way to help others, is there a charity you suggest?
Thank you for all you do, Kelly!
Thank you for helping us honor Kelly and the profession of nursing, Shonda. We salute you!
Do you have a story to share?
While our team at ShiftWizard believes all nurses are heroes, we’d like to hear who you feel has gone above and beyond. Help us honor a fellow nurse or nurse leader whose actions have inspired others in these unprecedented times, and let’s celebrate nursing together!
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We are honored to support our frontline teams and we are here to help you meet your challenges head on.
Send your nurse story to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or let us know how we can help you.