Nursing is caring
During my two years attending Gloucester County College for my Associate nursing degree, I learned the usual stuff that makes a nurse a nurse. Course after course along with hours of clinical prepared me to be the best nurse possible. Soon after graduation, I took a position on a med surg floor but after two years, I felt it was time for a change. I applied for a night position in the ER and was hired. It didn’t take long for me to feel confident as an ER nurse. After 3 months of intense training, I was ready to provide the best medical care possible. Dealing with a varied population can be daunting but I loved my career. I fit right in. I made it my motto to treat people the way I would want to be treated, and my patients took notice of the care I gave. It wasn’t hard for me to be caring. Caring came to me naturally- a feeling that was always in my heart. I never thought about it. I just did it.
One day while at the library, I saw a book, Conceptual models of Nursing, Analysis and Application by Melanie McEwen and Evelyn M. Wills that attracted my attention. I picked it up. It was about Nurse philosophy. I was surprised. There was never any discussion about nurse philosophy in nursing school. Sure, there was a brief mention of Clara Burton and Florence Nightingale but not enough to gain an appreciation of these two great women. I paged through the book. Watson’s model of Caring immediately caught my eye. Caring! I was mesmerized and began reading. Jean Watson wrote, caring is the essence of nursing; the most central and unifying focus of nursing practice. Unfortunately, caring is overlooked in the healthcare environment because providers are too overwhelmed to pay attention and patients suffer from the lack of it. Jean Watson elaborated further- Nursing is a caring profession and, because of its caring ideology it has a positive impact on society. I read the Watson model carefully. Watson was right. While nursing is physical, procedural and objective, it is also caring. I recalled my interactions with patients. I strove to make sure that each patient felt valued, safe and secure. I maintained a connectedness with each one no matter how busy I was. It filled me with wonder that all along I had been following Jean Watson’s philosophy. Just knowing that what I did had a scientific basis made me feel empowered.
One night, a trauma code was called in. A male, 15 years old male has sustained multiple stab wounds to his thoracic cavity. Due to the close proximity of our hospital, the EMS brought the young man to our ER. I along with my team worked furiously to save the young man but it was no use. The patient expired. I was upset over the loss but knew I did my best as did the rest of the team. Shortly, after the boy died a disheveled woman staggered into the ER with a stab wound to her right hand. She was immediately seen and her wound was sutured and dressed. She then complained of shortness of breath. I took her vital signs, put in a line and started IV fluids. An EKG was done. She was in A fib. Cardizem was given with good results but instead of relaxing the woman became anxious. Suddenly she began to cry. I thought she was worried about her heart and I told her not to worry, she was going to be just fine.
But the woman’s concern was not for herself, “I’m not worried about me. I’m worried about my boy. A man tried to rob us. When I told him we had no money, he pulled out a knife and stabbed me.” She raised her injured hand to demonstrate how she tried to defend herself. “My boy saved me. He shoved the man away and that made the man go wild. He screamed like an animal and charged my son. I was too shocked to do anything,” the woman sobbed into her cupped hands then whimpered, “he stabbed my boy in the chest again and again. It happened so fast. My boy screamed and then went down. Blood was everywhere.The man laughed at me then ran away.” The woman coughed and wiped away her tears. I put my arm around her shoulder as a terrible sense of foreboding took hold of me. She cleared her throat and continued, “I didnt know what to do so I flagged down a car driving by. The lady in the car rolled down the window. I told her what had happened and she called 9-ll. Then she pulled over to help me with my boy. We tried to stop the bleeding but couldn’t. Within minutes, The paramedics came and took him to Copper hospital. I don’t have any idea what’s going on.” She pulled at the strands hanging from her kerlix bandage and asked softly, “Nurse, can you please call and find out about my boy for me?” My heart stopped. Oh, no! Was the boy we worked on earlier her child? My hands began to shake. I knew the answer before asking.
“What is the name of your son?” The woman stated his name. I choked back tears and the woman noticed. “What? What’s wrong?” “Your son is here,” I struggled to keep my composure. “They didn’t take him to Copper.” The woman sucked in her breath. “Where’s my boy?” Her eyes widened as new tears slid down her cheeks. She looked so young and vulnerable. My heart went out to her. I told her that I had to get the doctor. She stared at me. She knew. I found the doctor and told him the situation. He stopped what he was doing and went right to my patient. He explained that we did what we could but it was too late. Then He said as delicately as possible, “I’m very sorry for your loss.” The woman collapsed into sobs. I could do nothing except hold her. My shift was long done but I didnt care. My job as a healthcare provider may have technically been over but my duty as a nurse was not. I couldn’t leave her. Jean Watson’s philosophy had instilled in me what I had known in my heart- caring is what humans need to heal. At that moment, I gave my patient the care in the form of comfort she needed. She was inconsolable for a moment then she abruptly quieted down. I wiped her face with a warm wash cloth as she took one slow breath after another. “I want to see my boy,” she whispered. I told her it wasn’t a good idea to see him the way he was. It was a crime scene and we were not allowed to touch him. Blood was all over. But my patient was not to be deterred. She shook her head. She insisted that she see him.
It’s been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul and that’s so true. That night, I saw a soul that was in deep pain. I would not deny her request to cry over her son. I asked the doctor if it was OK and he gave permission. With a quiet dignity, she stood up and straightened her shoulders. Her eyes met mine. “Nurse, can you please come with me? I think I could bear it better if you came with me.” I told her I would stay right by her side. Slowly, I led the way to her son. Just before I pulled back the curtain, I lifted my hand to her. She took it.