By Debra Martin, RN-BC
Art of Nursing
Caring is the heart and soul of nursing. Caring values, including kindness, compassion respect, faith, and hope motivated me to choose nursing as a career. I have encountered numerous inspirational “caring” experiences while working at CVMC but have also found that serving as a volunteer expands the caring consciousness and provides unique opportunities to provide care and comfort for a person’s body, mind, and soul.
Science of Nursing
In 2008, I began working as a volunteer for the Good Samaritan Clinic. The Good Samaritan Clinic is an organization which provides free medical care, pharmaceuticals, and mental health care for the under-insured and those who fall into the federal poverty level of 200 or below. The majority of staff are volunteers. As a volunteer RN, it is my job to assist the MD, perform patient histories, obtain vital signs, administer medications, and perform EKG’s. In addition, this position provides an opportunity to care for others in unexpected ways.
Art of Nursing & Patient Perspective
On a cold night in January 2009 I was working at the evening clinic. Near closing time a disheveled man carrying a worn and torn backpack entered the waiting area and came to the office window. “I’m just passin’ through. I don’t need no medicine, just somethin’ to eat… it’s been a few days.” The soup kitchen, housed in the same area, was closed. I brought him a hot cup of coffee and asked him to sit and warm up. Another volunteer and I searched the clinic kitchen area and gathered together soup, a sandwich, and peanut butter crackers to eat. We also were able to gather some extra items to send with him. He declined our offer to find him shelter for the night. “I’m a loner,” he said “but appreciate yawl’s care,” and with that statement he left. I wanted to do more for this man but I realized that simple things can make a difference in the life of another.
A diverse patient population is served at the Good Samaritan Clinic; the poor, those who have lost employment, are disabled, elderly or of another nationality, but all are in need of medical care and are unable to afford payment. Those who volunteer at this clinic work diligently to create a caring environment that provides the patients with dignity, respect, and most of all hope.
A middle aged man brought his wife to the clinic for evaluation of her diabetes. While performing a history the couple shared with me that they had fallen on hard times due to the economic related loss of jobs and the wife’s diabetic condition, which caused her to become disabled. They could not afford the insulin or medical care she needed. Therefore, they came to the Good Samaritan Clinic but expressed embarrassment for having to use a “free clinic.” I allowed them to voice their concerns and assured them that the volunteers working in the clinic serve patients from all walks of life. We see the community as our family and care for all who live here. I completed a history, completed a finger stick glucose level, and vital signs.
Science of Nursing & Art of Nursing
The physician completed his exam and determined that this patient would need consultation with a nephrologist. We were able to locate a nephrologist that would donate his services and the clinic was able to provide the patient with diabetic supplies; insulin, insulin needles, glucometer strips and lancets, all at no charge. The couple expressed relief and gratitude that they could obtain the medical assistance they needed and became tearful when expressing thanks for the kindness, care, and respect they had been given while being seen at the Good Samaritan Clinic. This couple reinforced my belief that nursing is the art of caring and caring requires nurses to consider the patient’s perspective. Nurses have the ability to provide the patient with encouragement and comfort when facing difficult times.
Art of Nursing & Science of Nursing
Serving as a volunteer allows nurses to reach out to others beyond the doors of the unit, hospital or facility where they are employed. It provides another opportunity to care for and serve our community. “You cannot do all the good the world needs, but the world needs all the good you can do” (anonymous). Being a volunteer enhances life, career and community.