A love letter to nurses everywhere

June 2, 2016

My day today involved working on a trauma unit with beyond-stressed nurses worrying about their patients going to surgery and trying to manage pain with Motrin because that’s all the doctor would order and praying for patience and unconditional positive regard for a difficult patient detoxing from heroin.

It was a hard day and we were divided, rather than operating as a team, for much of the day.

I almost cried (because I feel ALL THE FEELINGS ALL THE TIME) and I thought the attacks were personal. But then I realized that it was not about me – it never is. 

So, here is what I want you awesomely compassionate and intelligent people to know:

Dear Incredible Human,

Let me tell you something you probably haven’t heard in too long a time, if ever: You are a truly, no-doubt-about-it AMAZING person. No one remembers to tell you that and everyone takes you for granted. I know.

We’re in this together. 

And I want to take a moment to let you know that I see you. 

I see you paging the respiratory therapist 6 times trying to get them into your patient’s room for a breathing treatment. I see you taking the dozens of calls from nurse practitioners and pharmacists and physical therapists and social workers, and every other person assigned to your patient’s treatment team, and trying to coordinate your patient’s plan of care.

I see you counting to 10 and taking a few deep breaths before responding to that non-compliant patient who is so close to making you pull out all of your hair. I see you struggling to find the words for the mother of your patient who was shot 7 times during a home invasion. 

I see you and I’m with you. 

And I know this job is harder than you ever thought it would be.

I know you never imagined what it would be like to comfort grieving family members as your patient draws their last breath after a long, hard fight. I know you didn’t know how hard CPR is when you first started this job and you had never felt ribs breaking under your hands.

I know you came into this job not fully understanding all it would entail. I know it still surprises you sometimes, even though you swear you’ve seen it all. 

I know because I didn’t know either. 

But let me tell you something: You are killing it. 

You are fantastic. This is what you were created to do. I can see it in your eyes when you’re hugging your patient’s daughter. I can see it in your kind smile when your elderly patient apologizes for making your job harder. I can hear it in your soft voice as you ask if the pain is better today. 

So, Friend, smile and hold your head high because you found your passion, your calling, your life’s work. This is how you make a difference, this is how your impact the world, this is your legacy. 

You are awesome, and you do hard work and you do good work. This work is worth more than you’ll ever know. 

Without you, the world would stop.

Thank you. I stand with you. 

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