What did you do this summer?

Brittany Himes: UPMC Horizon, Winner of UPMC Nurse Intern Essay Contest

The story I want to share is about my experience with a patient that I will absolutely carry with me for the rest of my life…  An elderly patient was admitted to the unit with pneumonia. As the disease progressed, so did many other things such as kidney failure and respiratory failure. As the days went by, I performed personal hygiene care, education, and emotional support. The family considered me just as important as the other nurses on the floor and often looked to me for information regarding their loved one’s condition. They made me feel so important, even though inside, I felt like my role in the patient’s care was so minute compared to what the licensed nurses could provide.

Despite optimal care, the patient passed away. This was the first patient that I provided care for, for over a week. This was the first patient that I felt I was able to establish a trusting, nurse-patient relationship with. This was the first patient of mine that passed away. After the family mourned at her side, I stood, trying to hold back tears. When the family decided to leave, before they walked away, they looked at me and said “Thank you, Brittany,” reaching out with open arms for a hug. At this moment, the care I thought was so minute, I realized was actually enormous. I think at a certain point—when things like drugs and ventilators can’t solve the problems—emotional support is truly the best medicine.

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