A Nurse Practitioner Is Reminded Why She Chose Her Profession

Article by Kimberly Spering, MSN, FNP-BC

Article provided by Clinical 1 http://clinician1.com/

The past two weeks were difficult for me, physically and emotionally. One of my favorite patients, “J,” went to hospice care in a local nursing home, as her husband could not physically care for her at their home. I counseled a lovely older woman who is on her third bout of cancer in the past two years… colon, then breast, and now probable lymphoma—all primary cancers, mind you, not metastatic disease. I counseled—for the umpteenth time—then sadly sent termination letters to—patients who persistently were non-compliant with their care and not showing up for office visits as scheduled.

I have counseled innumerable patients with depression and anxiety… many of them are nurses at our local “Magnet” hospital. So much for THAT status, as they are as miserable as anyone I’ve ever seen in 20 years of nursing. Their Employee Assistance Program has a SIX MONTH waiting list…”unless one is suicidal.” Gee… how comforting to know that those who are supposed to help support the caregivers… are also “backed up.”

On top of that, my own grandmother is facing terminal breast cancer, lung cancer (likely metastatic), and who knows where else it is. She has severe dementia and had expressed wishes years ago to not prolong her life. We don’t even know where all of the cancer is, because we have not done any further testing. So… my ONE grandparent that was always there for me is battling these health issues… and my wonderful mother is coping with all of the stress… and I am utterly helpless to stop it. My grandmother has a premonition that she will not be with us long, as stated to me and my mother… and I believe her.

I manage to hide my own grief and stress from patients… to a point. My boss understands… I get “really quiet.” I can vent to him… to my husband, my Mom… but still, it takes a toll when it occurs day-after-day.

So it is with this mind-set that I share with you a moment I had this week… with a young lady who managed to pull me up out of the momentary abyss of despair…

I had seen this young woman a few times before… two sick visits and a routine physical exam. Her mother is an ICU nurse at a local hospital. To show how “small” of a world it really is, I had been a “student nurse extern” (a.k.a “nurse’s aide”) 22 years ago in the SAME ICU that her Mom works in now. Her mother was one of the nurses I worked with… and learned from.

I count myself fortunate that I worked in that unit for two years. I saw amazing things, assisted in procedures that would make me shudder today (for liability reasons—as a student, that is), and learned so much about ICU nursing care, that it made my senior year at college rather easy. I distinctly remember my ICU preceptor telling me that I had to be “humble,” because the nurses were intimidated that a “mere student” seemed to know so much. (Bah. I faked it.)

However, as I talked with this young lady, I saw a passion in her eyes… she, too, now works in the same ICU as a nurse’s aide. Her mother and the other nurses—many of them the same as when I worked there—have taken her under their wings and shown her “the ropes” as well. She is thrilled to learn all of these things, and to be part of the health care team, even in her role as a nurse’s aide. She has vision… and determination.

She has applied to the local university to the Physician Assistant program. However, there is a back-up plan. If she doesn’t “make it,” she intends to go into the BSN program at the local college… then work her way up in nursing for the advanced degree.

I caught my breath, while talking with this young woman. I saw my own passion in her eyes… from so-long-ago. Wow… what a moment. When dealing with numerous crises, and the despondent nurses from the local hospitals… it is easy to forget that dedication, that spark. I told her the nurses that I remembered from two decades ago… most of them STILL work in that ICU. Her eyes grew huge as she realized that I, too, had walked in her footsteps so long ago.

I thanked her for reminding me, yet again, why I do what I do. We need others to pass the torch… to keep that passion alive.

Deja vu… and good memories.