It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To: The Hospital Nurses

20 Aug

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To:

The Hospital Nurses

Walking into the hospital on those very first days is terrifying.  Despite all the successes you might have had along the way, you’re afraid to be found out to be a fraud who knows absolutely nothing.  

And I proved that early on, Sally held out a syringe for some lidocaine for my first circumcision (not a phrase you ever want to hear as a new dad) and promptly injected air and lidocaine all over the nursery floor.  Fortunately, the procedure went better than the beginning and I’ve gotten pretty skilled a sharpening at pencil over my time here in Abilene.

The nurses at HMC nursery have been beside me for some pretty amazing things…they’ve watched me intubate babies to help them breathe, place chest tubes to expand lungs and do spinal taps to check for meningitis but my favorite thing to do with them is to stand at the head of the baby with my arms crossed while I watch them do what they do.  I never saw the need to get involved when they were doing what  they were able to do what the baby needed and that happens about 90% of the deliveries I attend.  Occasionally, I was there and needed to be and was happy to help.  They finally quit asking me to assign Apgars when they realized I always said 10 and 10 and just started asking, “Is 8 and 9 ok?”  “Sure, whatever, the baby looks awesome, I don’t care.”

If I wanted to sum up what I think about the nursery in one word, it would be: supportive.

I came to HMC as a baby doctor…I mean a baby, baby doctor.  I was 28 years old and was told the one time that I shaved my beard never to do that because I looked 13.  The nurses could’ve easily looked at me and said, “This kid can’t know anything” but I never, ever felt that way.

 From day one, I felt that they trusted I knew something about taking care of “their” babies.  If you don’t know this, there’s no one more possessive and protective than a NICU and nursery nurse.  If you don’t believe me, just walk in to a nursery and call a baby “not cute,” I’ve never done this, but believe me, it would get ugly quick.  From my first time to deal with a sick child (which didn’t take long…doesn’t anyone remember that 2nd call night I had, it was brutal?), I saw a look on their faces that said, “You can do this.  We can do this.”  I believed them and we did.   About a month into my time here, I walked by a room on L&D and overheard a nursery nurse say, “He’s young but he really knows his stuff.”  I’ve always assumed that was me and nothing could’ve made me more proud and more emboldened to go on and provide the care that I was able to provide (if you are that person and you were talking about Dr. Wiley, just keep it to yourself).

Another group of nurses that needs to be mentioned is the nurses on pediatrics…my experience there has been so rewarding.  There’s nothing more exciting than watching a child who is sick and out of it, respond to your treatment and get back to health and on their way home (or ALC, a la casa as I like to say).  There’s nothing that causes more concern than deciding that you can’t do what a child needs and picking up the blue phone to call for help from Cook Medical Center.  Then, you spend an hour or two looking at the nurse who’s helping you say, “Did you hear a helicopter?  I’m pretty sure I heard a helicopter” about 1000 times.

If I wanted to sum up what I think about the pediatric nurses in one word, it would be: eager.

There have been so many different nurses I have interacted with that have come through working on pediatrics.  One thing that they have consistently demonstrated from the experienced nurse to the fresh trainee is an eagerness to learn about their patients and their treatment plans.  I’ll never forget one day having a trainee (I won’t mention any names but it rhymes with Skelsey) ask me a question about why I had chosen a particular treatment plan…Because, that’s what I do…Fine, I’ll look it up….Ok, I’ll change it and make it right, you win.  I don’t think that was her intention, but her question forced me to investigate why I was doing something a certain way and change my practice.

There’s also been a million examples of finishing rounds and having a nurse ask a particularly nuanced question that let me know they were really paying attention and wanted know more.  I would put my pen down from writing my note, take my stethoscope off (neck strain is a real thing people)…That’s probably about the time they realize…I shouldn’t have asked that question because this is about to be a long answer and it’s time for me to walk down to the cafeteria for biscuits and gravy.  But, they respectfully listen (or at least pretend to be listening) and hopefully got the answer to their question in the midst of my ramblings.

Another evidence of their eagerness was when I was asked to teach a series of lectures on ICU care.  The first time I show up at lunch I start noticing nurses come in wearing jeans and t-shirts and workout clothes…weird I think, I’m not sure those are hospital approved uniforms.-aren’t they supposed to be wearing navy?  Then I realize, some of these are night nurses…what?  Who comes up to the hospital on their day off or when they are going to have to come back later that night for their shift to hear a talk about dopamine?  The answer: a nurse who is committed to perfecting her craft and caring for children well.

So, how do I sum this all up?  It’s difficult, because we’ve seen so much together but ultimately I think I’d have to say, “Thanks.”

Thanks for your support.

Thanks for your eagerness.

But most importantly,

Thanks for taking care of my patient’s so well and helping me to be the best pediatrician I could be.


5 Responses to “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To: The Hospital Nurses”

  1. Leah Hammett August 20, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Wow! And this is why you’re such a great doc! You ahow appreciation for thos ethat work along side you!

    • Leah Hammett August 20, 2013 at 6:29 pm #


      oops! 🙂

  2. Kim Belcher August 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    Thank you for taking care of my first grandbaby. It was a blessing to see you the last day Peyton Pagano came in. Amazing to see you at jim ned high school. Tennis balls at graduation. To taking care of my sweet baby. May you and your family be blessed.
    Love you guyz

  3. Michelle Owens August 20, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    I was in L&D that first call night and remember walking into the nursery to check on that baby. The baby was in good hands and so has each one since then! We will truly miss you and we thank you so much for all you have given to HMC nurses and babies!


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