Making a Difference

I’ve been an oncology research nurse, an IV Therapy nurse, an emergency nurse, and a critical care nurse. I’ve managed a large emergency department staff and I’ve managed a small office staff. I’ve sat in a cubicle reviewing medical records for an insurance company. Like many nurses, there have been times when I’ve dreamed of leaving nursing to work in a less stressful place like a flower or book shop. Of all the jobs I have had and all the places I’ve wanted to escape to, the job I have now is the one I was always meant to do…the one that gives me the most satisfaction. It is my vocation. I am a visiting nurse.

I have taken care of extraordinary people throughout my career…in hospital beds, dressed in hospital gowns, attached to machines, weak, sick, dying. I have held their hands and cried with their families. Today I still take care of extraordinary people. Some are very sick. A few are dying. Many are weak. Dementia, depression, emphysema, and diabetes are some of the diseases they have. I take care of them in their home. Sometimes they no longer have their own home but live with a daughter or son. I enter their homes as their guest. I visit them surrounded by their personal history.

I am challenged by their needs. I use my nursing skills to identify problems. I plan my care of them carefully. I utilize other team members like physical therapists or a social worker to provide my patients with the care I’m not trained to give. I talk to their physicians. I give them injections, pour medication, take their vital signs, dress their wounds, irrigate their tubes. I teach families how to care for an elderly parent. I listen to them, hold their hand, and go to their funeral.

Visiting nursing is what I went into nursing to do. To minister to the ill. To make a difference in someone’s life. When I look around my patients homes I see all the photos of family and special events in their lives. I see my patient in a favorite sweater. I see their cat curled up on their bed. And I am invited in to share in a moment of their lives, to help them adjust to an illness, recover from an injury, or meet the challenges of a chronic disease. This is my vocation. This is the best job I have ever had.

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