If I had to describe nurses in three words, I would use the phrase “superheroes in scrubs.” Recently, the world has seen our healthcare heroes step up to the frontlines and fight COVID-19; twenty-three years ago, I personally experienced the life-changing effects a nurse can leave on someone. Being born almost six weeks premature, I spent my first month after birth fighting for my life in the NICU and would not have survived without the care of my nurses. My family was greatly impacted by the compassion my nurses showed. Every day, I am thankful for the nurses who kept me alive, and it is an honor to celebrate all nurses during National Nurses Week! Here are a few of my favorite stories that commemorate nurses and their dedication to their profession.
- Turning Shots into Magic Tricks: The feeling of nervousness when getting a shot is common in children (and in some adults, as well!) One nurse decided to alleviate nerves in her pediatric patients by using creativity to get their mind off the shot. She turns fear into fun by calling the shot a “magic trick” and letting her patient “paint” excess blood on a tissue. In the video, the little boy conquers his fear and wins a little cash. Kindness and imagination go a long way.
- Hope Huddles: As a float nurse, Emily Fawcett moves from one unit to another at Lenox Hill Hospital. When working in different units during COVID-19, she realized that many doctors were not seeing their former patients when they transferred units. Many doctors would ask Emily about the health of their previous patients since she floats around. The doctors’ questions gave Emily an idea: an initiative called “Hope Huddles” where the hospital staff comes together to share positive patient reports, as well as check in on one another. It’s a time to celebrate the positive that is happening in the hospital amidst negative times. “I think if we start to hear the outcomes we are achieving…and if we hear that the patients are getting better…that will give all of us a little hope and a little light that we need right now,” Emily said.
- Santa Baby: When WellStar Atlanta Medical Center released these photos on their social media accounts, they added a warning label to the post: “Warning: It might be too much cuteness!” The NICU nurses decided to spread Christmas cheer to families of NICU babies by dressing their tiniest patients in Christmas attire, like giant bows and miniature Santa outfits. As a NICU baby, I know my family appreciated nurses working to keep my family’s spirits lifted in tough times, and WellStar nurses worked to do so in both a heartwarming and tangible way.
- Never “Just a Nurse”: When looking for stories to add to this article, I found this video of a Miss America contestant, Miss Colorado 2015 Kelley Johnson, sharing a monologue about her life as a nurse. I remember watching this live and being impacted by her monologue, as it made me realize that I also value working in a profession where I can use my skills to help others. Kelley speaks of her interactions with a former patient, Mr. Joe. He would ask Kelley to change his medications, to which she would reply, “I can’t; I’m not a doctor, I’m just a nurse.” When finding him crying in his room, struggling with his Alzheimer’s, Kelley told him, “You are not just Alzheimer’s, you are still Joe.” To which he replied, “Nurse Kelley, then the same goes for you…you are not just a nurse, you are my nurse, and you have changed my life because you have cared about me.” Her monologue illustrates how powerful the connection between patients and nurses can be.
- A Hospital Wedding: If you’re looking for a nurse appreciation video that will melt your heart into a million pieces…look no further. A 4-year-old named Abby, who was battling leukemia when this video was filmed, decided that she would like to “get married” to her favorite nurse, Matt Hickling. After sealing the deal with ring pops, in less than 24-hours, Matt, Abby’s mother, and the staff at Melodies Center at Albany Medical Center in New York threw together a small wedding for Abby and Matt. The occasion was complete with wedding cake, flowers, and even a special toy car that said “Just Married” that Matt pushed Abby around in. Abby’s mother wrote that Abby said it was the “best day ever!” and Matt wrote on Facebook: “This day will hopefully be one our patient and her family can always look back on and smile when days are tough! I know I will!” Having a fake wedding was not something Matt prepared for in nursing school, but his kindness allowed him to make one little girl’s dream a reality.
- Strength Through Song: As a lifelong musician, I can personally attest to the fact that music is a powerful tool that can be used to touch hearts. Olivia Neufelder, a nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, believes in the power of music, too. When Margaret Smith was diagnosed with liver cancer, she was admitted to the hospital in hopes of getting a liver transplant. When Margaret seemed fearful, Olivia decided to ask what her favorite song was—and started singing “Dancing in the Sky” to Margaret every day. “Just looking at her eyes when I would sing to her…she wasn’t at the hospital anymore. She wasn’t afraid,” Olivia said. The video was recorded right after Margaret found out she was too weak to receive a transplant, making the song even more meaningful. Olivia didn’t sing because she thought she had the best voice; she used music as a tool of compassion.
- Full-Circle Care: Life has a funny way of coming full circle, which is evident in this story about two nurses. Nurse Nicole Krahn had been caring for semi-retired nurse Lynn Bartos by helping her manage her rheumatoid arthritis. Lynn felt that Nicole had a familiar presence but couldn’t figure out why…until one day at an infusion appointment, Lynn took a second glance at Nicole’s nametag and exclaimed, “You’re NeeNee!” Lynn realized that she was Nicole’s nurse throughout her childhood. Nicole had to have her small intestines removed shortly after birth and was fed intravenously throughout the first few years of her life; she visited the hospital four or five times a week and would see her friend “Sweet Lynney,” aka Lynn. Nicole wrote that she always wanted to be a nurse, and the kindness Lynn had for her influenced how she shows her patients kindness and compassion. “It was an absolute gift to me to reconnect with Nicole,” Lynn said. “That’s how I look at it, that I was given a gift to know that in 44 years of nursing, I made a difference.” Full circle, indeed.
These stories showcase just a few of the nurses who work tirelessly long hours—not for money or recognition, but because they care about helping people feel their best. To our superheroes in scrubs: THANK YOU for your commitment to your patients!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hi! My name is Marah Whitaker (think Laura with an M). I am the Marketing Assistant for UTC Center for Professional Education. During the workday, I spend time writing blog posts, creating content for social media, developing email campaigns, and building relationships with our customer base. During my free time, you can find me getting lost in a good book, having spontaneous dance parties, playing piano, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wing Night. Professionally and personally, I aspire to live by the Mr. Feeny quote, “Dream. Believe. Try. Do Good.” I strive to use my passions to serve others and contribute positively to the world around me.
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