Nursing Basics: One of My Sister’s Saves

As I was writing ‘Why I am a Nurse,’ I kept thinking about my sister Sarah who is also an RN.

While working as a nurse practitioner I saw patients all over the very large hospital Sarah and I work at. During my time with the ortho-trauma team, she worked in the SICU and, at times, would be assigned to my patients.

Watching her work was, quite simply, amazing. Her quiet confidence and purposeful movements put families at ease. Sarah’s biting wit and no nonsense attitude have earned her the respect of peers, residents and attendings alike.

We have become a default support system for each other. Ego knows no bounds as we are able to call and brag about our roll in saving a patient, or cry when we need an emotional outlet for our grief. The two of us share the best and worst of being nurses with each other.

One of my favorite stories she told me was about a patient in which routine cardiac surgery became anything but, as his body systems began shutting down one by one. It started with fluid retention and progressed to fluid overload as his kidneys stopped functioning. The team tried everything and the desperate decision was made to give him dialysis, in a last ditch effort to stop this perplexing cycle which was quickly approaching devastating.

My sister entered his care at the point when things were reaching their most critical. Her day was to be one in which she is routinely at her best, caring for someone the new nurses were scared to touch.

After getting change of shift report from an exhausted colleague, she began at the beginning and performed a patient assessment. Prior to hanging more medications, calling for dialysis equipment or analyzing pages of lab results, she then took a few moments to do something simple. Sarah almost immediately changed the course of her patient’s care.

She flushed his foley catheter.

My sister did what her patient needed the most: she thought like a nurse.

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