Nurses Without a Heart

Photo credit: faithrichardson.com
Photo credit: faithrichardson.com

For most of us we will never know what its like to be on the other side of nursing care, where we are at the mercy of those who need to take care of us. On October 9, 2010, I found myself standing at my husband’s bedside and watching as the career I loved and have practiced for almost 30 years circled around him.

Over the next 3 months I saw nurses of every type and found myself praying for that nurse, the one that we all hoped we would be when we practiced our calling.

On December 27, 2010 I had to bring him back to the hospital one last time to have a piece of his skull replaced.

I have worked in a hospital for over 20 years, took students into clinical in just about every hospital in the city, except the one where I went back to. I have never seen such a place where there is minimal to no customer service, and the environment is so very caustic.

Yet, as I look back and think about our first experience there, I had interactions with far too many mechanical beings, and not enough of the caring, compassionate people that are what define us as humans.

The mechanical beings were the “doctors” and some of the “nurses”. The doctors who stood outside my husband’s room, never once entering to introduce themselves, only concerned with test results, and nursing reports. They were the ones that I had a heated discussion with; when I asked the attending physician if he trained them to talk to families, and interact with patients, he was insulted, and I said he should have been. They only saw a piece of pathophysiology lying in the bed, and not a father, husband, friend, human being. He was just vital signs, intake and output, just numbers.

I want the real nurses, the ones who, introduced themselves to me, “I am his nurse tonight, and I am going to treat him like he is my husband”, the one who just by walking in the room, looked at my sleeping husband, and talked with certainty and hope about my husband’s care over the next few hours, who went back to basics of comfort in trying to get his temperature down.

I want the nurses who, pulled out home photos, played the music we left, and invited Filipino staff members to come talk to him in his dialect. That nurse who’s worried about getting him out of bed as “he needs to get up”, and Tony was still sleeping. Those nurses who wore glimmering angels, crucifixes’s and were not afraid to talk of hope, love, and faith. Those nurses who called me in the middle of the night, just to update me, on Tonys night.

I am fearful of the mechanical nurses who were only worried about his numbers, and looked at me with disdain, and kept asking me, “about him not waking up”, and , “we have been so amazed by your constant hope”, questioning me as to loving someone is abnormal.

Those nurses forgot why they got into the profession in the first place: to care, have concern and compassion for another human being and family. They forgot that there is a science intended for caring, that there is rich history behind a “nurse”, and that caring for a patient is also caring about his family, and friends.

Those nurses forgot  families are not “problems”, that THEY are the patient advocate, and THEY supervise and DIRECT ancillary staff (nursing assistants), not the other way around, while allowing the nursing assistant to speak and “rule” in the patients room, lying to patient’s family members about what is done on the units.

Above all, they forgot, that the patient is a person, a human being, a family member, a “loved one”, not just a piece of anatomy.

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  • Joy

    care is the essence of nursing..to bad some nurses take it for granted.. When i passed the nle last december 2010.. many people ask me…why don’t you apply abroad?? you took up nursing just to earn dollars ryt?? but as what i always say: being a nurse is my calling…yes i want to work as a nurse…but my primary reason is to help those in sick..to be their advocates…to comfort when there is pain…Being a nurse is me..and this is my destiny..:)