Nursing is the second hardest job I’ve ever had. The first was motherhood. And both can be incredibly frustrating, and incredibly rewarding.

Yesterday was my third shift of my week, and I found myself getting frustrated because I was so far behind in my duties, and my confused patient would close her mouth every time I approached her lips with the spoonful of applesauce that held her crushed medications.

And then something stopped me. And I put the applesauce down, and I stroked her hair. And I spoke softly to her, and I held her hand, and even though her eyes were closed I felt her squeeze my hand back and her grimace soften ever so slightly.

My preceptor had entered the room without me noticing, and watched this interaction, and commented on it. “You’re very sweet.” Or maybe it was, “you’re very kind.” It really doesn’t matter.

I was thinking about this today and realized I do this partly because I lost my own grandmother in 2013, and mostly due to illness that prevented me from travelling, I wasn’t able to spend much time with her in her last years.

So in that moment yesterday when I put the applesauce down, and ran my fingers through her hair, I remembered that woman is somebody’s grandmother, somebody’s family.

I’m learning that tasks don’t always get done on time, that meds will sometimes be late, and charting may not get done until very late into my shift. But what I need to remember is why I love nursing: the potential connection you can make with a person who is vulnerable… and using that connection to heal more than just the physical body.

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