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Bringing childhood lessons into nursing

Nov 28, 2020

Bringing childhood lessons into nursing

Medical-surgical nursing requires patience, understanding, and compassion. Nicole Ruttencutter, nursing team lead, learned these attributes from her grandmother at a young age.

Community work taught Nicole that everybody deserves love and understanding.

“It is important to put yourself in someone’s shoes. To take a step back and not take it personally when someone is not feeling well. Taking that into consideration when you’re interacting with them,” Nicole says.  

Learning empathy at a young age

Nicole was able to go around and help the community with her grandmother. Through these trips, she learned to care for others.

They made food and took cleaning and hygiene supplies to distribute throughout the community. Nicole would ride her bike during the summer and help her grandmother contribute to those in need. 

“We would go about the whole community—people that she just knew needed help. She would always fill their fridge. We would bathe them and paint their fingernails,” Nicole says. “The lesson she taught me was empathy.”

This focus on community and the importance of learning from others drew Nicole to medical-surgical nursing.

Caring for patients as a med-surg nurse

As a med-surg nurse, Nicole takes care of five to six patients at a time. The nurses get these patients ready to leave the hospital in their best possible health.

“Nine times out of 10, they are on that next step to go home, and we are the last face they see before they go. We are the reason they can be successful when they go home to finish their healing,” Nicole says. 

Through working with these patients, Nicole honors her grandmother. 

“I take my grandmother with me in my heart every time I get to take a moment to talk to a patient and learn one thing about them or make a connection,” Nicole says. “I think that is what makes med-surg special.”  

Lessons from grandma

Nicole learned much from her grandmother, things that she applies to her everyday life, and her job as a med-surg nurse. She pulls from stories of her youth to bring compassion to her workplace.

“She took me into a lady’s home, and the lady was really smelly. As a nine-year-old, I was very verbal about the smell. She took me aside and said, ‘everybody deserves good treatment. Everybody deserves respect,’” Nicole says.

“To make it funny, she said, ‘the stinkier they are, the more love they need.’ As a med-surg nurse, as I walk in the room and somebody is angry, I take those words with me. The more anxious the patient is, the angrier they are, the more love and patience they might need.”