What if today was the last day you would practice nursing?
Would you remember the first pair of scrubs you wore, crispy clean not a stain on it?
Would you remember the feeling of being a student nurse, vacillating between feelings of terror every time you entered a room and excitement at what the future would bring?
Would you remember the first patient you took care of all on your own as a new graduate, the first time you took report without anyone hovering over you, the first time you assessed a patient without an instructor, or preceptor bossing you around?
Would you recall the first patient you suspected something was amiss, and followed your instinct, your uncertainty, the inherent part of you that’s vital to your work which isn’t taught in any textbook?
Would you remember, the patients who touched your soul, the patients who broke your heart, the patients who angered you, challenged you, the ones who pissed you off intentionally, the ones you learned from?
Would you see again through your own eyes the very first code of another patient you witnessed, from the crash cart where you stood trembling, but under the safe guidance of a preceptor who walked you through it all?
Would you remember the fear of encountering your first unresponsive patient?
Would you recall the steps you took, the role you played in helping to save the life when you felt as small and inconsequential as a mouse?
Would you recall the moment you carefully crossed your expired patient’s hands and feet, gently closing their eyes, covering them in a shroud, holding back tears lest you appear weak and emotional?
Would you remember the first time you were asked to take charge of the unit, glancing around incredulously as in, “seriously…me?”
Would you recall the first new baby nurse you oriented, the trust as they followed you around, watching your practice, or the feeling you had when you in turn watched them doing something with excitement for the first time?
Would you recall the many times you’ve come onto a shift to find empty IV bags, messy unorganized rooms, incorrect IV solutions hanging, unclean patients, unfair manipulated assignments, IVL’s falling out, or deep sense of foreboding once one patient codes, they come in threes?
Would you remember the nights, days, and moments of potlucks, surprise break room parties, celebrations of births, engagements, honorable prayers of the deceased coworkers, hallway and nursing station trickery and antics?
Would you remember the patients you have lost, a marking on your soul of each encounter?
Would you remember the first patient who looked up at you with trust, and how this made you feel? How it made them feel?
Would you see today differently, if you knew it would be your last?