As I look back on my many years of nursing it is often the little things I remember and hold dear. I can of course think of some of the big things when I know my nursing skills had a profound effect on someone life or their survival. However, the little things are what makes nursing so individualistic and personal. I would hope that the big things I did, any nurse would have done, such as picking up on preeclampsia in a patient and sending her to the hospital. However, I think it is the little things that make us unique in our nursing skills.
I remember seeing a home care patient for the first time that needed to be taught how to care for her colostomy. She said she didn’t know how she would ever learn to take care of it because she couldn’t even look at it. I reassured her that she would learn to do this and I would be with her every step of the way. The confidence and pride she demonstrated the day she told me she no longer needed me to come to her house to help her was a heartwarming moment.
The joy on the face of a severely burned patient when I found him a one handed fishing rod was truly memorable. He had gotten through all the pain and suffering of being severely burned on his upper body, but he was grieving using the use of one of his hands. Even after completing rehabilitation he was unable to use one of his hands. He loved to go fishing and was so thrilled when I found him one handed fishing rod.
Another memorable moment was seeing the peaceful look on the face of a hospice patient when I managed to change her bed, bathe her, and wash her hair. It had been days if not over a week since she had been cleaned up. We were all tending to her needs for pain medications, food and fluid, but she looked so disheveled. She was so appreciative of the effort to help her feels clean and settled again.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of the little things, a touch, a squeeze of a hand, reassurance, resourcefulness, problem solving, or any of the other things we do as nurses that are not measured by time keepers. It is especially important now that we are spending less and less time at the bedside, and less and less time actually touching our patients. Know that you can have a profound impact on your patients with what might seem as small, insignificant actions.