When someone asks me “what is a nurse” or “what do you nurses do exactly”, I often find myself stumbling over my words and giving some vague answer that I know doesn't do my profession justice. In my head I think, how can words describe the complexity of this beloved and trusted profession? If only they could come experience what my day at work is like. If only they would see how my job is more than following doctor’s orders, giving medications, or changing beds. If only they could hear what goes through my head when I’m recording a child’s high temperature or analyzing blood work. If only they could see that the health of an individual is so much more than treating a disease. If only they could understand the difference taking the time to sit with a patient can make.
On my second day of work as a new grad I had a one-year-old patient whose diagnosis was still uncertain. This dear child had been poked and prodded time after time and the doctors were still trying to figure out what was going on. It was obvious her mother was concerned and cared for her child, but each time I went in to check on her she was by herself sitting in her crib. The health care team had been in an out all day taking blood, doing assessments, taking a swab for this and a swab for that. Each time she would see one of us approach in our yellow gowns and masks she would get restless and fussy.
During that afternoon when I went in to do my hourly check she was alone again, sitting in her crib looking around. I approached the crib and smiled through my mask and started rubbing her back. She looked at me with her big brown eyes and raised her arms. At that moment I realized this dear child had likely not been cuddled or hugged much at all that day. I picked her up and she clung to me with a fierce little grip and laid her head on my shoulder. She would not let go. After a few minutes she calmed down and just sat there in my arms. I will never forget the feeling of this little one hugging me so.
It was humbling to share this moment and be there for her in this way. On my drive home I realized that this is what nursing means. These precious moments flicker by us so quickly and often go unnoticed, but they are the foundation of everything nurses do.