You and your toddler are sitting where no parent wants to be in the middle of the night: the ER waiting room. You finish filling out paperwork and sit back to watch the bustling nurses until they call your child’s name.
The idea of becoming an RN has struck you more than once. There’s no denying that it’s a stable, rewarding career path, but you also can’t ignore the downsides. What about the crazy hours, stressful situations and difficult patients? Is being a nurse really worth it?
The answer is, “Yes!” according to three veteran nurses who have seen it all. We asked them to tell us about their best day as a nurse. These are the nursing stories they recall whenever they have a rough day, reminding them why they became a nurse in the first place.
Read on to realize some of the rewarding ways these RNs have made a difference for their patients.
4 Nursing stories that prove it’s all worth it
1. Being there for each & every patient
Nurses have opportunities to help patients all day long, even if those patients aren’t theirs. That’s what happened several years ago to Sarah Dawkins, senior RN and director of Dawkins Health Consultancy.
“I came across a patient on the ward who was crying and in severe pain,” Dawkins recalls. She immediately took action to help him, even though he wasn’t her patient. Dawkins contacted the man’s RN and physician and was able to administer the pain medication he needed.
“I was able to act as his advocate,” Dawkins says. “For me, it was all part and parcel of my everyday role, but for this gentleman, it meant the world!”
2. Providing care without judgment
Nurses encounter patients from all walks of life, many of whom are afraid of judgment they may receive from the medical community for one reason or another. An RN can change a patient’s entire perspective by “showing them you value caring and compassion above all else,” says Sara Mosher, RN and owner of Patient+Family Care.
Mosher recalls an instance when she was caring for a patient recovering from surgery after a hit-and-run accident. Neither the patient nor the family spoke English, and they were immigrants who had arrived in the US illegally. Mosher says in situations like these, “you work very hard at making them feel safe so they can heal, rather than being scared that you are going to report them for deportation.”
Mosher made arrangements for an interpreter so she could effectively communicate with the patient, going out of her way to provide the best quality care she could. “You get to be a non-judgmental and supportive person,” she says. “They are in your care and while they are, they will receive compassionate service no matter what.”
3. Delivering excellent care in the face of fear
RNs are sometimes thrust into situations for which they weren’t prepared, but they make the most of it by doing whatever it takes to care for their patient. That’s exactly what happened to Nancy Brook, MSN, RN and nurse practitioner at Stanford Hospital and Clinics.
Brook was a new practitioner when a 77-year-old farmer came to her clinic with pain in his hand after falling on a piece of farm equipment. “While I had been out of school less than a year, my patients had no idea how new I was to the profession,” Brook says. She removed the t-shirt the patient had wrapped around his hand to find a large laceration.
It took the new nurse two hours to thoroughly clean and suture the wound. A week later, the patient returned to offer sincerest thanks because his hand felt great—he even brought a puppy from his litter to give to Brook as a thank you! Needless to say, that was one day on the job she’ll never forget!
“It was a terrifying experience for me, but ultimately I was able to overcome my nerves and give him the care he needed.”
4. Being the bright spot for a frustrated patient
Everyone has heard horror stories of nurses forced to deal with difficult patients. What you may not hear about is how nurses are often able to turn those negative situations into positive ones.
Mosher recalls beginning a shift to find one of her patients angry about being uncomfortable throughout the night. The patient had a laundry list of complaints, including her tardiness with his pain medication.
Situations like these aren’t fun for anyone, but Mosher handled it with grace. She assessed her patient, administered his medication and truly listened to what was upsetting him.
“While a patient may be angry and frustrated and taking it out on you, it’s not personal,” Mosher explains. “Usually, the anger is coming from fear and anxiety about what they are going through.”
She finds it rewarding to be a friendly and warm presence for them during these times of frustration. While she may not be able to make her patients happy all of the time, she loves being a bright spot in their care!
Start writing your story
These RNs and others like them are constantly working to make patients’ lives better. Every job has its downsides, but there aren’t many careers that allow you to make such a big difference to others.
If you decide to pursue a career in nursing, you’ll inevitably start collecting your own positive nursing stories. These are the very reasons you’re interested in becoming a nurse, so why wait? Learn how to become a registered nurse so you can start making a difference!