Just a Typical Student

Patti Goggins
Assistant Professor of Nursing

My father recently had a heart catheterization and I accompanied him to the hospital for his procedure.  The surgeon was running about 6 hours behind schedule, so the nurse came to apologize and to inform us that my very hungry father would be delayed even longer before he could eat.  I recognized the RN who came to speak with us as Kristi, one of my former students. She had been a quiet, diligent student who needed to work for the grades that she earned.

Healthcare being what it is, we were separated from the other patients by a thin, closed curtain, so I was able to listen as she interacted with her other patients. I noted with pride how respectfully she treated each of them. She had developed and matured into someone who was practicing nursing as both an art and a science.  She changed her approach based upon her patient’s needs and expectations, joking and irreverent with some, more formal and traditional with others, while always maintaining a caring, professional attitude.

My father returned from his procedure, and was finally cleared to eat. It was 9 PM on a Friday night, however, and the hospital cafeteria had closed several hours before.  As we were discussing where I could drive to get him a hot meal, Kristi walked in with Jimmy Johns, piping hot and smelling delicious.  My father was delighted, and I was extremely grateful.  Her seemingly small gesture of kindness was not lost on me, and I began to tear up.  Her thoughtfulness and sensitivity was just so touching.  I told her that I was so proud of the type of nurse she had grown to become.  She responded, “You taught me so much about nursing, not by what you said, but by how compassionately you treated both students and patients. Your class had the biggest impact on the type of nurse I wanted to be”.

I was shocked.  I had done little to nurture her when she was an average student, yet she had grown to become an exceptional nurse. As humans and as teachers, we want immediate gratification.  Life doesn’t typically work that way, however.  Many times, our biggest lessons aren’t learned until years after they are taught. I am grateful that Kristi reminded me that just because a student does not excel during the short time that they sit in my classroom does not mean that they will never transcend. And so my father and I both left the hospital that night with our hearts beating a little stronger, thanks to the care we had received from Kristi.