A Deep Bow to Nurses

Happy Nurses Week!

Mukta Panda

“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.” —Mandy Hale

I started my journey in healthcare in India where I went to medical school. I remember the nurses wearing traditional white starched uniforms with their signature caps. Each had a specific colored ribbon marking their seniority.

My early clinical rotation was in pediatrics. The charge nurse, or matron as she was called, was easily identified. She had a certain demeanor and palpable respect wherever she went. I was scared when I first saw matron and made a mental note to avoid crossing her path.  

A few days into the pediatrics rotation we entered the wards, where beds lined either side of the room. I was attempting to obtain a history from a young mother who held a child in her arms. The mother had traveled from the nearby village with her three-month old baby, who was having a high fever. The dialect they spoke was different from what I was fluent in, and I was having some difficulty communicating with the mother. The child was crying incessantly and so was the mother, who was feeling her child's discomfort and unsure of how to help.

I was on the verge of tears myself. I didn’t know how to comfort or what to do. I felt so inadequate. Suddenly I felt someone behind me. I turned and saw matron. My inhibited tears just started flowing, both out of fear and frustration at my own inadequacy. However, I felt this kind warm arm on my shoulder and a soft compassionate voice comforting the mother. It was magic. The mother was reassured and willingly handed the crying baby to matron, who started her soft cooing to comfort the baby.

Once the child was sobbing less, matron looked at me with her really kind eyes and asked, “Are you okay? Don’t worry,  we will take care of the baby. You did a good job.”

I still do not know what I did, but I can still hear matron’s kind words, and her smile is vivid in my mind’s eye, still bringing me comfort today. I have many similar stories from my journey in Medicine across the globe, in India, Saudi Arabia, London and Tennessee, America.

I am truly grateful for this sage advice given to me by my mentor early in my training:

Nurses are the ones who really care for the patients with their time, compassion and selflessness. They care for the whole patient. Spend time with nurses, observe them, and you will learn so much from them. Always respect and care for nurses.  

I have always tried to heed that advice, share it, teach it, and role model it. I can say that from the nurses I have learned more about the care of a patient, about resilience, about selfless and holistic care. They spend 12 hours or more by the bedside of the patient, caring for their physical, mental, and emotional needs.

In this COVID era, nurses are the ones who have given of themselves selflessly and with a smile. They not only care for the patients and their loved ones, they care for us physicians too. Many many times I have been offered a cup of freshly made coffee, a snack or food.

Even in this COVID climate nurses are caring for the patients with even more creative and amazing compassion. They are filling the void of the patient’s family or loved ones who cannot be there. 

I was on rounds recently on a weekend, when we saw two nursing leaders pulling a wagon with many individual arrangements of fresh flowers. They were offering them to us, the physicians, expressing their gratitude! They are the ones who deserve the flowers.

Happy Nurses Week! I offer you these heart flowers, made of words that have been expressed by many. The words represent our gratitude! A heartfelt “thank you” to all the nurses at Erlanger Health System and everywhere. Thank you for all you do! 

“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.” —Mandy Hale

#REFLECT: What do you recall about your favorite nurse? Share a story with someone nearby today.

 

How is the coronavirus changing the way you think of self-care, community and resilience? As this challenging time unfolds, I am posting a daily quote on this blog with a reflection prompt. Please join in the conversation here or on Twitter with your thoughts or about what you are doing for self-care and care of others. My new book explores these ideas too: Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-Being.