The good nurse.

Yesterday I had a patient tell me

“you’re a good nurse. One of my favourites.”

I think all of us nurses have been told that in the past on more than one occasion. I usually brush it off, but for some reason, it stuck with me. I started analysing how I was acting, was I approaching my patients in a method different to my co-workers? Was it any different to how other nurses were working?

I want to be clear, In no way do I think I am a perfect nurse, I’m no better than the health care workers along side me. I’ll be the first to put my hand up and admit to having very bad days to go with the very good. This is, infact, my usual answer to the aforementioned comment. I’m quick to assure them that I really do have my bad moments. If one only reads my earlier post, you can see this one sits in stark contrast, testament to the mix of highs and lows we have.

I think the reason today’s comment stood out, was because barely twenty minutes later, in a different room with a different patient, a visitor commented “are you ok? You don’t have the smile I always see you with?”

*In my defence, I had just caught sight of the half-time score between my cats, and the hawks. *

**side note, well done boys for coming back as hard as you did!**

I think that most nurses I’ve worked with will be quick to attest that I am found more often with a smile than not. I know I’ve had many comments from from staff and patients alike. Sometimes the smile needs a little more work to apply, but I like to try start my day on a positive note. More often than not, this translates itself into my work. Even on bad days, I try to start with a smile (easier now that I wake up to something worth smiling at).

I don’t think I’m any nicer, or more competent than any of the nurses I work with. Far from it. I work with an amazing group of men and women who I have seen go above and beyond their call of duty to make their patients comfortable and improve their well being. I don’t give any one patient preferential treatment, though I know it might seem that way at times when I have a patient that needs more attention.

So what makes a good nurse? Patients see the nurse taking care of them for only fragments of time through a shift. Each of these culminates into a lasting impression. For that reason, even the twentieth time my patient buzzes to go to the bathroom, I will do my best to go into that room as soon as I can with a smile, every time. Even if its only to explain that they might need to wait a little while. That smile seems to reassure them that I am concerned for them. It’s not enough to just smile though, one has to follow through. If you’re to busy to get that cup of tea just then, take it in later. I know more than one patient that has gone from agitated to calm with such a simple gesture.

I know this is not always possible.

I have had those shifts where everything goes wrong, and the buzzers don’t stop. Where patients and families don’t understand that you have a very sick patient two doors down and all they can see is their mother sitting in a wet pad for the last hour. A smile won’t always fix that, but a smile while I apologise for taking to long, a light hearted comment, or joke while I clean the patient up and make sure they’re comfortable. These, I find, go a long way to making sure the patient and their family feel heard and understood. For me, my smile leads my care. It influences how I communicate with my patients. I don’t know if it makes me a good nurse, but I hope it helps.

***end note***

I know not everyone likes to comment, but I would like you to leave at least one word about what you think makes a good nurse. Whether you are one, or have been a patient before and have had a nurse that stood out to you. I’m curious to what your thoughts are.

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