“While in clinical as a student at Clemson University, I was caring for a nine- year-old child who had been badly burned. Before this day I had always thought I would love to be a pediatric nurse, but after caring for this child my thoughts changed and I almost left nursing forever. My job that day was to deride the burns on this young child, a task that involved taking off the old dressings, which stuck terribly to his wounds. This was in the mid 1970s and we had not yet perfected our pain management techniques nor were we using a whirlpool to loosen these dressings. It hurts me then and hurts me now to think how painful this procedure must have been for this child. I cried along with him. Fortunately my instructor came in, and seeing my anguish, replaced me with another student to finish the task.
It was a devastating experience for me. I got in my little Pinto and began to drive home to my folks to confess to them that I could never be a nurse. But I wasn’t able to make that confession because I was also afraid of disappointing them.”
-Thomas Masters, Carolinas Healthcare System, Charlotte, NC
As healthcare providers, each of you takes on the burden of others’ pain. You often times are those that carry out painful procedures for the overall health of the patient. Like this young nurse in his training, you might at times feel overwhelmed at the task ahead. In his case, he had to learn to keep those emotions in-check for the sake of his patient. Sometimes you feel too much emotion. Maybe it’s easier for you to just be numb. However, in relation to this story, I’d like to challenge you to check out your emotions. Many of you have been in the healthcare system for a very long time, while some of you might just be starting out. Regardless the amount of emotion you show plays a vital part in bedside manner.. in how the people you treat are impacted. The challenge is to evaluate yourself. Check to see if you have become numb to those in your care.
This isn’t to lay blame, just to get a read on where improvement can be found. The more you are engaged emotionally, the better your success.
(This story was taken from the book, “What’s Right in Healthcare” stories compiled by Sutter Health)