Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where our patience is tested. Today was sort of one of those days. It was an extremely slow day in the PACU and there was a variety of nurses whom I hadn’t worked much with or seen before. They appeared to be the nurses who had been working there for a fairly significant amount of time. I found my help not really being utilized or even my physical presence being acknowledged. I was informed in the beginning how some nurses would thoroughly enjoy teaching and taking advantage of my help, while others just simply stick to fulfilling their commitment. I surely learned of that today.
While my job description, as a volunteer, entitles limited involvement with the patients, I usually make myself as useful as possible. I was especially discouraged today when I rarely interacted with patients and just basically handed off blankets to the nurses. I had to do something to make my experience more meaningful and effective. If I couldn’t directly help I would have to come up with another way to do so. As the patients were wheeled and their parents walked out of the PACU area to be transported down the hall or to another floor, I would simply just flash them a smile. A smile that meant more than any words could, one that connected to the angst and exhaustion written across their parents’ faces. A smile that reflected understanding and empathy for the patients. These smiles were returned and at that instant I knew I had made some impact in their day, even if it was a minute one. Wouldn’t it be convenient if “a smile a day could keep the doctor away” could be applied to real life and medicine.