June 6, 2011
I just got back from a wonderful evening spent with critical care colleagues whom I once worked with at the IWK Health Centre. We came together as a group to share a meal and to enjoy each other’s company, as we reminisced about the years we worked together in the PICU. As the evening progressed, inevitably many of our conversations centred around the patients we cared for that were memorable for us, as a group and as individuals. Shared memories. It would start with, “Do you remember the little guy in Bed 4 with…” and someone would add… “Yes, he was the one who…” and the story would be recounted and the memories of caring for that patient and family would be easily recalled by the group. The stories we retold to one another described many tough shifts where those around the table had worked together to save a child’s life, to comfort a frightened family or to care for a child at the end of life. Shared stories. As we relived the events of those shifts when we worked together, we spoke highly of the role each of us had played in that patient and family’s experience as we worked together. Mutual respect. Teamwork at its best. In these stories are snapshots of the lived experience of a critical care nurse working alongside expert colleagues inside the intensive care units across our country. We speak to one another easily as
we recall these stories, and it is in the telling of these stories we can find our voice. These are the stories that portray the kind of bold courage, risk-taking, skilfulness, knowledge and absolute expertise that are the hallmarks of critical care nurses everywhere. These are the real stories that need to be told. These are the kind of stories that will provide the public with a more accurate view of what the role of the nurse is, instead of TV dramas like Nurse Jackie (an RN with a substance abuse problem) or Grey’s Anatomy (where you seldom even see a nurse caring for a patient).