TriStar Health - November 16, 2016
by Kadie Woltemath, RN, BSN Cardiac Nephrology Nurse - TriStar Skyline Medical Center

What Happens When Nursing is Your Calling

TriStar Nurse Kadie

"I believe that nursing is not just a job. It is not simply about the physical aspect of assessing patients and performing skills. Nursing is about how you make people feel as well. It is about giving everything that you can to your patients every single day.

I was caring for a patient that was in his last hours of life. His body was giving up on him and I knew that there were only so many nursing skills that I had that would benefit him- at this point it was simple comfort care only. There was no family present at the bedside and upon looking into the chart, it turns out he had no family that was around any longer to be with him. By the end of my shift, the patient really wasn’t talking anymore, his breathing was shallow and his eyes were all that moved. I had given report on my patients to the oncoming shift. All I could think about was my patient, lying in his hospital bed taking his dying breaths, alone. No one deserves to be alone when they leave this Earth. I went into his room and pulled up a chair next to the bed and took his hand. I didn’t know much about his past or the man he was, aside from his medical history, but I said I was going to pray with him. I told him that it was okay to let go whenever he was ready and that I wasn’t going to leave him alone. I sat holding his hand and talking about anything and everything as if he had been my friend for years.

Caring for others doesn’t stop just because the shift ended- for me, it is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

After a couple of hours had passed I realized he was no longer breathing. I felt my throat tighten up and tears sneak into my eyes. I thanked God for the man’s life and squeezed his hand one last time. My shift was long over at this point so I informed the day shift of his passing and headed home. Even though my heart was heavy at the loss of life, I couldn’t help but be grateful that I had been able to give that man the comfort of knowing that someone was there as his heart beat its last beat. He left this world knowing that someone cared and was there beside him.

That is what nursing is to me, it is not something I just “do,” but it is who I am. Being a nurse and caring for others doesn’t stop just because the shift ended- for me, it is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It’s about giving patients all that you have and treating them with love and dignity- even when it is no longer your “job”. I couldn’t help the man’s body anymore at that point, but I would like to believe that I helped his soul. And honestly, he helped mine. Everyone deserves to know that there is someone who cares about them and supports them. I am so blessed and honored to get to be that person for all of my patients and every person that I encounter in life."