When assigned patients on shifts, I don’t receive any identifying information except a room number. I never know who I will encounter; men or women, old or young, those who are alone or who have a room full of visitors.
One Tuesday morning, I was directed to change the linens in Room 244. I knocked the door and entered the room paying little attention to the man in the chair. The lights were off with the curtain drawn. There were no “Get Well” flowers or balloons in sight. As I began to work on the bed, I noticed the man staring out the window. After a minute or two of silence, he asked, “How hot is it out there today?” I was surprised, but jumped at the opportunity to start a conversation, so I replied, “Somewhere in the high eighties…hot enough,” and he laughed and smiled back at me. I could make out the dark circles under his eyes and see the bruising from the IV that had most likely been placed over a few days back. Hospitals stays aren’t as glamourous as the media has made them out to be. He asked me why I had on a white skirt instead of scrubs and I told him about my student volunteer experience and my CNA training. I shared my goal to become a Registered Nurse and hopefully one day be back in this hospital in scrubs; maybe I'd be lucky enough to be on the third floor in Labor and Delivery or on the main floor in the Nuclear Lab. I told him about my own experiences as a patient and how fortunate I was to see the care from every angle.
After I turned down the sheet and helped him back in bed I donned more gloves, grabbed the linen bag, and turned to leave. He stopped me and said, “Thanks for talking. Good luck with nursing, I know you’ll make a great one someday.” I was the only visitor in Room 244 during that shift.
1. Whether this story is real or not real, how is respect illustrated in this situation?
2. What does respect mean to you?
3. Who in your life helped shaped that meaning?
4. What personal challenges, identities, or life experiences do you carry that others cannot see or infer externally?
5. How can we as a team integrate respect for those we serve into our customer service this summer?