While we all prepare to surround ourselves with friends and family this holiday season and reflect on reasons to be thankful, I wanted to address some reasons in our professional lives that we should be giving thanks.

1. Thank you to my patients for allowing me into their lives.

Something to remember is that whether they’re willing or unwilling, pleasant or miserable, each of your patients is allowing you to see a side to them that many of their closest friends or relatives don’t see.  During a hospitalization, patients are vulnerable and often scared, but as nurses, we have the chance to be a source of knowledge, comfort, and guidance.  Don’t ever give up on your patients, no matter their demeanor.

2. Thank you for the opportunity to make an impact in at least one person’s life.

Not every patient interaction is going to be super meaningful or life changing.  But make an effort to go the extra mile and really make someone’s day, at least once a day.  I don’t want to suggest that some patients deserve “special” treatment, but each individual requires “different” treatment.  If you can readily identify a “different” need for one of your patients and you can meet it, then do it.  You will feel good about it.

3. Thank you to all of the techs, aides, and assistants.

And environmental services staff, and unit secretaries.  As someone who has performed almost each of these jobs, I can tell you that many nurses don’t understand what a vital role each of these team members play in the delivery of healthcare.  While you sit and feel overwhelmed about the amount of charting you have left to do, remember that your CNAs are out there gathering vital signs for you and helping your patients to the bathroom, and performing a lot of other undesirable tasks you definitely don’t want to do.

4. Thank you to my fellow nurses.

For keeping me sane and giving me reasons to laugh during stressful shifts.

5. Thank you that it isn’t me in the hospital bed.

Something we don’t think about enough.  Whether it’s just for some basic IV antibiotics or for a brain injury following a car accident, remember that you could just as easily be the patient in that bed.  But today you aren’t, and this is where the Golden Rule comes into play in nursing—always treat each of your patients the same way you would want to be treated (or want a loved one to be treated) if you were the patient.

 And if you’re at work on a holiday and there is no turkey in your tummy and you haven’t used the bathroom in hours, remember that many of us are in the same boat.  And at least we’re there to work, earn a living, and spend time with special people, instead of being the hospitalized patient on Thanksgiving!

  1. Elizabeth Scala says:

    While I love gratitude and have a daily practice surrounding it- I never thought about being grateful for the patients and their allowance of us being in their lives. Thank you for such a wonderful reminder! How humbling and what a great way to really enjoy our profession. We are given such a gift to be nurses. Thank you for sharing such inspiration with us!

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