The Privilege of Healing & The Art of Nursing Revealed: One Little Boy, One Photo, One RN’s Story

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The following story is one that my friend, colleague, and editor, Bonnie Kerrick shared with Confident Voices in 2012.  It is an inspiring and touching story that sheds light on the “Art of Nursing” and provides incentive for us to reflect on and share what holds meaning for us in nursing.  Since readership and social sharing of blogposts has increased since the original publication it seems like a good idea to republish below!  (If you or your organization are seeking ways to bring back the “Art of Nursing”  check out the Elizabeth Scala event coming in May 2014!  
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Patient Care

by Bonnie Kerrick, RN, BSN

The black and white photograph has captured a certain moment in time. Something has happened or is about to happen, between the young nurse and the little boy.

The nurse, in her white starched uniform and pleated starchedcap, stands next to the little boy sitting in a hospital crib.  The crib side is down, and they have been talking.  The little boy looks up expectantly  at the nurse, and she looks back at him, her head slightly inclined toward his.  He looks like he feels very safe. He looks like he trusts her.

The little boy’s head seems out of proportion for a four year old, and it is. He was born with hydrocephalus  – water on the brain – a condition that has required surgical intervention several times already in his young life.

I am the young nurse at the  bedside, and the little boy is Bobby.  We have just finished a procedure where I push  on a plastic tube behind his ear a number of times, 20 sticks in my mind, which “shunts” the fluid from the ventricles in his brain into his urinary system. In fact, the valve is called  a shunt.  It doesn’t hurt him, it’s done four times a day, and he is used to it. It’s a part of his life. What is happening, just at this moment, is that Bobby is asking me if he can pump my shunt. In fact, his exact words, which stay with me to this day are, “Miss Dinsmore, now can I pump your shunt?”

As the photo was snapped, I am  trying to figure out how to respond. It doesn’t take me a minute to decide.

“Sure, Bobby,” I say. I take his little fingers and guide them behind my right ear, where he proudly  pushes rhythmically twenty times, helping  me as I have helped him. When it is done, he settles down for a nap, and I leave  his room to help other children and their parents.

This is the kind of nurse I was, and this photo, taken by a colleague in 1964,  hangs  in my bedroom where I can see it  every day. It is a touchstone from my past that reminds me  how joyous it can feel to be kind and  help  people feel comfortable with who they are.

© Bonnie Kerrick, RN, BSN

Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate your nurses in May 2014!  

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To complement the presentation experience, each attendee also receives our comprehensive series workbook filled with journal questions, handouts, and supplemental reading from our speakers.  I’m revising a workshop called, “Inspire the Nurse Within” to include in this book to help you facilitate sharing of stories like “Patient Care”!

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One Response to The Privilege of Healing & The Art of Nursing Revealed: One Little Boy, One Photo, One RN’s Story

  1. Pingback: I’m on Vacation, but lots to check out at Confident Voices in Healthcare Blog

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