Nursing Experience: “The Best Day”

img_0267Mary M. Simcic, RN, has been an LVN instructor at Career Point College for two years and has experienced many great times with her students as they go through their nursing school journey. Ms. Simcic brings over six years of teaching experience to Career Point College as well as her genuine passion to help others.

“Nursing has always been my calling,” said Simcic. “It was the perfect profession for me.”

Since she was a young child, Ms. Simcic experienced caring for others, including her neighbors who dealt with alcoholism, arthritis, and other health conditions.

“These situations really taught me that you can make a small or a large difference in someone’s life.”

Below, Ms. Simcic shares a particular experience she shared with her students that impacted all their lives personally and professionally.

 

My daughter once said to me “Mom, I don’t know anyone who loves their job as much as you do”. A truer statement was never made. The honor of caring for someone in their most vulnerable state has been my calling. Choosing a “best day” after thirty-six years of nursing is difficult, however, one experience does stand out in my memory.

This especially rewarding patient interaction occurred while I was teaching students at a clinical site. It was a particularly slow day, and I had approached all of the staff nurses in an attempt to find patients in need of skilled nursing. There were a number of routine procedures that filled our day. My group of six students and I were heading to post-conference when I was approached by a nurse. She stated that she was hoping we could help with a patient who was very time consuming. This patient had a tracheoesophageal fistula and a tracheostomy and would need to be fed and suctioned frequently to prevent aspiration.  The students anxiously looked at me, hoping that they could wrap up the day as quickly as possible, but that was not to be.

When we entered the room, I was immediately struck by the frail appearance of Mrs. Meek. Her eyes met mine immediately upon entering the room. Her hair was messy, she had food from the previous feeding crusted around her mouth, her skin was dry- the list began to form in my mind.   I introduced myself to her and informed her that my students would be feeding and suctioning her. Although she could not speak, she nodded her head in agreement.

As we proceeded, each student had an opportunity to suction and feed the patient, and Mrs. Meek tolerated the procedure well. As the feeding ended, one of the students asked me, “Are we finished”? I looked at the condition of Mrs. Meek and returned the question to the students: “Are we?”  Over the next twenty minutes, we began to address the needs of this patient. We bathed her, moisturized her skin, fixed her hair, and changed her sheets. We placed pillows between her boney knees. Before we left, I approached Mrs. Meek to inform her that unless there was anything else that she needed, we would be leaving. She reached for my hand, and as I placed my hand into hers, she kissed it. She then motioned to each of the students and proceeded to kiss their hands, as well.

The next morning, I returned to the facility bright and early. As I walked down the hallway, I noticed that Mrs. Meek’s bed was raised, but she was not in her room. I walked down to the nurse’s station to inquire about the patient in room 302 and was informed that she had died a few hours earlier. After the students arrived, we proceeded to the room previously occupied by Mrs. Mable Meek. I explained that she had died in the early morning hours. We discussed our experience the day before and the difference that we had made for this one woman.

Approximately a year later, I received a letter from one of the students whom I had the honor to mentor on that day. She told me that she had passed the NCLEX and that she was now a nurse. She told me that she would always remember her experience with me and that it would make a difference in the way that she ministered to those in her care. She said that day had changed her life.  I know that it has forever changed mine.

 

Ms. Simcic credits nursing to be her salvation. “Nursing is healing for me. It gives back to me what I have extended to others.”

She continues to say that she truly hopes all her students can learn from this particular experience and offers this piece of advice for all current and future nursing students:

“You never know what the day is going to bring. Like in this case, we did not know Mrs. Meek would be gone the next day. Know that you have a great deal of power in how people accept their illness. Your behavior and decisions as a nurse are very significant. Don’t give up when it gets tough. Pull through and wait until you’re on the other side; that’s when you’ll know the true value of this profession.” – Ms. Mary M. Simcic, RN