A salute to nurse aides

A salute to nurse aides

Too often, we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

— Leo Buscaglia

Well, here I did it again; I started something and didn’t finish it. Last week, because of spending some time in the hospital, I submitted my thoughts about how much respect and admiration I have for our nurses. This week, I had to spend a few more days in the hospital and am now a resident in Autumnwood Care Center for rehabilitation. This caused me to realize that my previous article was only half finished; I did not say enough, so I will say it now.

In my previous article I started with, “What is a nurse?” So, I’ll start this one with: What is a nurse aide? I looked it up and it said that a nurse aide is “a person whose job is to help nurses to take care of patients.”

Well, yes, they certainly do that — it’s accurate. But I would like to add a few words they left out, one of which is “comforting.” Let me give you an example of why the word “comforting” does a good job of defining what a nurse aide is.

Two nights ago, I woke up with a severe pain in my back. I won’t go into detail as to why the pain was in the number 10 level. But I will say that because of a condition I have, there are some pain medications that would give me some harsh side effects.

One of the nurse aides came in, knowing she could not give me any pain medication. She just did the best she could by moving me around to a more comfortable position. She felt bad because she could not give me any pain medication, so she just stayed there trying to comfort me with her hand on my shoulder. Then the pain eased up.

This happened twice; one time with a nurse and another with a nurse aide. This made me aware of the fact that if a caring person is there trying to comfort you, that in itself is healing.

Then there are the words such as “compassionate,” “caring” and “kindness.” Again, I want to add that regardless if it is a nursing home or hospital, what I have said is true for all of them. It is quite evident, and you can see it in their eyes that they want to see you get free of pain and comfortable.

I did not know any of them personally or anything about their personal lives. All I know is what I have observed while they were caring for me in the hospital and nursing home describes what a nurse aide is all about.

I have two reasons for writing this. I love putting my thoughts on paper and I would hope this would encourage others to reach out to all of our nurse aides and, in your own way, let them know that they are more than simply “a person whose job is to help nurses to take care of patients.”


Frank SanGregory,