Friday, October 31, 2014

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TELEPHONIC NURSE

The five second silence on the other end of the line seemed like forever. Until my patient said, "It's nice to know that someone is willing to check on me, ask questions, and listen to me." Then I said, "It's what I do Sir. Nothing less and wish I can do more".

I started working from home as a nurse care coordinator. Armed with the company issue Blackberry, I reach out to patients and follow up on their ER visits. I check on their conditions, identify their needs, and validate concerns. Make sure they understood their discharge instructions, filled their prescribed medications, and followed up with their PCP, to name a few.

When I left the hospital setting four months ago, my biggest concern was losing the personal interactions. But I was mistaken. Yes, I work by myself in my home office, No physical interaction. Yet, the connection I have made through phone calls exceeds more than what I expected.

It's hard to make a connection to start with. I remembered working in the bedside, I came across many different personalities. In the flesh, right in front of me. For the most part, I have met and taken care of many patients that has made me the nurse I am right now. The person I am right now. Each one taught me something. No matter how small it was, it made a life long impression.

As a telephonic nurse, the nail biting challenge is not knowing who's going to answer on the other end. What mood they're in. Will they be receptive towards me. Trying to make a link by just my mere voice. My tone, the way I sound, how effective I formulate my words. No face to go by, no height, no weight, no color. Just pure and simple voice.

"My prayers are with you" Those were the words I told her the day before I called her back the next morning. She said, "I'm so glad you called. I was thinking about you and how you helped me feel good about my situation". Then, I told her, "We must have been connected, because I thought about you this morning so here I am". She said, "God is with us. He sent you to me". And from that moment, I felt goosebumps, tingling down my spine, a feeling of love and warmth. Is this God?

The love and warmth has always been there. When patients say thank you for reaching out and checking on them. When they invite me to come over their house and chat with them. When a COPD patient starts feeling better and asks me how I'm doing, without running out of breath. I'm doing very well.

When moments happen and I do make connections, reminiscence of floor nursing starts reliving inside my head. A time when an older adult looked in my eyes and said, "Thank you", because I fed her. I told myself, "No, thank you for reminding me that I do still care". Little did she know that guilt started eating me up. Because I really just want to get away from all the chaos in the nursing hallway, I then smiled and told her, "You're welcome. I want to make sure you get your dinner".

The bedridden patient who cannot talk. He looked at me and somehow, I knew he said thank you. I continued on to wipe his face with a warm washcloth, to clean him up. To give comfort and reassurance. That for this little smidgen of time, give him dignity, love and warmth.

These connections are what makes nursing extraordinary and apart from any other profession.

Each patient in person or not, touches your inner soul. Make you believe in something far more words can ever express.

I don't have a door to open and greet my patients with a smile on my face. What I have is the company issue Blackberry. A phone number and a phone ringing on the other end. Waiting for someone to answer. So I can greet them with a smile on my voice.

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