1. Huntzinger, Amanda

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To the Editor:


During a postclinical conference in my first semester of nursing school, I started to question whether or not I was gaining the same amount of experience as my fellow classmates. As I listened to students describe experiences caring for patients with complicated conditions (i.e., stroke recovery, extensive feeding or drainage tubes, and Parkinson's disease), I began to worry that I had not been exposed to the same material.


On the way home from the hospital, I listened to the news on the radio. The reporter began talking about the New York City tragedy and I started to cry. I thought about all of the pain and suffering. And then I thought about pain and suffering in general and their presence in the people to whom nurses provide care. How horrible of me to be so greedy for knowledge and experience that I, for a moment, lost sight of my purpose. It is not about me and what I learn; rather, it is about the patients and how to relieve their pain and suffering, with the ultimate goal being physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness.


Sometimes healthcare providers become desensitized in order to deal with the reality of their experiences. Upon beginning nursing school, I considered this issue as I thought about why I wanted to be a nurse rather than a doctor. For physicians, providing care seems to be a scientific matter with the main focus on anatomy and physiology. Nurses, however take a more holistic approach to health, caring for the entire being-mind, body, and spirit.


Although I was not in New York City to experience the full reality of the devastation and destruction, I will witness pain and suffering as a nurse. I will see people die. I will see their families weep in sorrow. I will see people giving of themselves to save lives. Yet I will also see relief as pain subsides; excitement, as patients return to their normal lives; joy, as they heal and recover; and peace, as they reach a final resting place. Beholding and sharing in these beautiful emotions will ultimately provide the fulfillment and insight I desire.


Increasing awareness of human responses to various situations is valuable both in dealing with clients and in one's personal life. I believe nurses who view emotional experiences as opportunities for personal and professional growth will gain wisdom caring for individuals facing significant life events. With the many opportunities and challenges of life in today's world, I hope nurses never lose site of their purpose-caring for patients.


Amanda Huntzinger