Recently I have been tormented with the age old question"what do I want to DO with my life" and as I imagine what I can possibly become this story inspired me... so I thought I would share it.
Many patients have touched my heart during my 35 years as a nurse (25 as a women's health nurse practitioner). Sometimes we forget how our presence and nursing care has influenced our patients and their families. But I recently was reminded how influential our actions can be.
During my clinical at the county health department's prenatal clinic, I assessed a woman whose fetus was diagnosed with gastroschisis, a congenital fissure that remains open in the wall of the abdomen. The baby would need surgery immediately after birth, but the county clinic had no money with which to help this family. I called a physician I knew from a nearby children's hospital, and the physician agreed to perform the surgery.
Years passed. I left the area to work at another women's clinic and eventually took a position teaching in a college's associate degree nursing program. One day I noticed a young nursing student who wasn't from the area; he told me he was staying with his grandmother so he could attend the nursing program. This young gentleman-I'll call him Joe-worked diligently to pass his courses and I could see that he gave his patients knowledgeable and compassionate care.
As we were completing the last clinical, Joe said to me, "You don't remember me, but you were there when I was delivered. My parents told me about the nurse who sent me with my father to the children's hospital for surgery. Now I will be graduating as a nurse."
During our nursing careers, we encounter many situations and may often wonder what happens to patients after they leave our care. Little did I expect to see one of my former patients, whom I'd last seen as an infant, come back as my student. Joe has since completed his BSN and came to see me during graduation. We do make a difference-one patient at a time.