Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, this time of year is, for many of us, a time to count blessings, express gratitude, and reflect on the “gifts” (both tangible and intangible) we’ve received. It’s also a time when we draw close to the people who’ve touched our lives in important ways—usually family and friends. Yet all of these things come into play within the nurse-patient relationship as well. There are times when a caregiver, patient, or patient’s family member experience a touching, transformational, or even life-changing interaction. Sometimes we’re aware it is happening and sometimes we’re not.
There are many ways a nurse can touch a patient’s life. Earlier this year we wrote about the ways in which nurses can go the extra mile for their patients. The ANA nursing code of ethics mandates practicing with compassion, yet the web is full of stories about nurses who have brought compassionate care to a whole new level. Many of these stories involve nurses who are caring for children—like the two nurses who created a dance party in the room of a pediatric cancer patient or the nurses who helped stage a pretend wedding ceremony for a little girl with leukemia, complete with flowers and cake.
Patients at the end of their lives have also inspired acts of tremendous kindness and compassion from nurses. In one of the most touching stories of the year, the nursing staff of a hospital in England helped to arrange for an elderly man to have a visit with his horse, wheeling him out to the hospital patio in a gurney just three days before he died.
Such acts don’t go unnoticed or unremembered, and sometimes nurses are recognized in amazing ways for contributions they have made. Recently, a NICU nurse in Georgia was surprised by a video made in her honor, which subsequently went viral. It showed the nurse tearfully watching a video montage of parents thanking her for helping to save their babies lives, and then being surprised by a bevy of those parents, along with their children, who streamed into the room to thank her in person.
Perhaps one of the most visible tributes to a caring, compassionate nurse is the DAISY Foundation, which was formed in 1999 by the family of a patient named Patrick Barnes, who died at age 33 after a long hospitalization. After Patrick passed away, the family looked for a way to express their profound gratitude for the work that nurses do every day.
As a result, the DAISY Foundation now has four gratitude missions:
- To honor exceptional nurses through The DAISY Award;
- To fund nursing research through The J. Patrick Barnes Grants for Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice Projects;
- To recognize extraordinary compassion and skill by nursing students through The DAISY in Training Award;
- To honor nursing school instructors through The DAISY Faculty Award.
All of this happened because nurses, through the act of “just doing their jobs” made a lasting impression and impact on the lives of the patient and family they cared for; the Daisy Award program is now being implemented at 2,054 healthcare facilities in 15 different countries.
Every single day, nurses and patients interact in meaningful ways. Sometimes it has far-reaching results. Sometimes the nurse is inspired to excel at compassionate care, and sometimes the patient is inspired to express gratitude or “pay it forward” in ways that touch other lives. Keep this in mind and reflect on it when you begin to feel stressed or burned out. Your patients truly appreciate the kindness and care you provide, and so does American Sentinel University. Thank you for being a nurse!