What I Learned from My Nurse

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You may have faint memories of your nurse at the doctor’s office or the nurse who helped you after your procedure, but I have vivid memories of my favorite nurse. She was kind, patient and always willing to lend a helping hand. But she’s not just any nurse, she’s my mom.

I often think about what the strongest influences have been in my life and I could mention so many people and experiences, but I always come back to her. My mom has been a night shift telemetry nurse for more than 35 years. She came to the United States from the Philippines years ago in hopes of making a good living and being able to help support her family members thousands of miles away.

From the time we were young, my younger brother and I both felt a little unsettled each night that my mom was scheduled to work. We all read stories, worked on homework, had dinner and watched cartoons together, but we all knew that when we changed into our pajamas and she into her scrubs, that we would both would feel a gaping hole knowing that she wasn’t coming back home that night. As we said our nightly prayers and kissed her goodnight, she walked out the front door to drive downtown and care for others’ sick loved ones.

In the morning, my dad was always up before she got home, ready with a cup of coffee and a little breakfast to greet her as she came in from a long twelve-hour shift. We could always tell she was physically exhausted, but she always had a warm smile on her face and immediately kissed us on the forehead after she changed out of her scrubs.

She always had stories to share- telling us about funny stories from the break room, touching moments with her patients and family members, patients she couldn’t save- it was my own backstage view of hospital drama. It was also her way of deflating from a night’s hard work, and then retiring into her room to try and recover with only a couple of hours sleep before going in again for another shift.

It wasn’t often that I had the chance to see my mom in action at work, but I knew whatever it was, that she was really good at it.

Oftentimes, we would be out running errands and a patient or a patient’s family member would stop my mom to embrace her, sometimes even tear up and thank her for providing wonderful care. Or a colleague or a physician would stop to greet her and bend down to me and say, “Do you know how great of a nurse your mom is?” It left an impression on me. It made me proud of my mom and it still does to this day.

She’s the voice in my head that influences me in so many ways- the way I parent, the industry I work in and the way I treat others. I’m a working mother with two small children and every time I think I’m tired or can’t take anymore, I think of my mom pushing through and caring for her patients.

I chose healthcare communications because I’m comfortable working in a hospital setting even if I’m not on the clinical side. I feel a strong connection to those who care for patients and I want to help them in any way possible. Through her actions and her work, she continues to teach me patience, compassion, empathy, perseverance, humility, strength and how to truly listen.

Nurses give a part of themselves during each shift. They leave their families to be your family member in the hospital or clinic for several hours a day. They give you care, advice and encouragement as a patient and then turn around to go home and do the same for their family.

It takes a deep-rooted love for others to do this day in and day out. My mom has always had a couple of families- us, our extended families far away and her family at work. While it wasn’t always easy to share her, I only hope that I can share those qualities with my children and those around me.

So if you’ve had the chance to experience my mother’s care as a nurse, you’re welcome. I think she’s the best of the best, but I may be a little biased.

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