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What Inspires You? More Answers!

by: Linda Le | Mon, Feb 24, 2014 |

Last week, we received a few more responses to our "What Inspires You" question which you can find below. (Additional submissions can also be found here.) We'd love to get as many submissions as possible so please keep them coming!


Susan Y. Paul, BSN, RN, CPN, UPenn School of Nursing, 2008

"My patients, especially how they deal with things far beyond their years with grace and dignity. This young man is not of MY patients, but his story exemplifies this concept."



Paula Gallagher, RN, CHPN, Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing 1998

"As a staff nurse on a busy Hospice Inpatient Unit I experience many brief but intense encounters with patients and their family members.  At times the pace can be quite overwhelming. However, in the midst of it all are many opportunities to connect with the spirit or soul of another person and to embrace our common humanity. Nursing theorist Jean Watson calls these encounters "caring moments."

Over time, certain people continue to live on in my memory and inspire me. They remind me to pause in the midst of the chaos, to keep my heart and mind open and to be fully present.  They are the reason I continue as a hospice nurse.

A few years ago I began writing down some of these experiences.  One of my favorites is Mary. I call her story Schlitz Beer.

Schlitz Beer

"They’ve got a lot of big tippers over there" she told me with her toothless grin and radiant eyes.  Mary had worked as a cafeteria cook in a high-level government agency for thirty years. Now retired, she was proud of her career and had many stories to share. In addition to her daily job she had often been invited to cook and serve for private parties at the agency.

In her lifetime she had served many, and I imagine she'd done that with the same glowing smile she shared with me today, though her body was now frail and weakened by cancer. She was at our hospice inpatient center to manage her pain, which had progressed along with her disease.

Mary rarely had visitors, which surprised me, and I enjoyed spending as much time with her as possible. I asked her what she used to enjoy doing after work to relax. She looked away shyly and then with a smile said, “Well, I always enjoyed having a nice cold Schlitz beer.”  She confessed that her daughter didn’t approve and so she had to sneak it into the house. 

That evening after work I went in search of Schlitz beer, not knowing if the brand was still in existence.  Finally, in the far corner of a cooler in the back of the Super Giant, I found a single six-pack, white cans and brown labels.

The next day I served Mary’s lunch tray, complete with Schlitz beer and an ice-cold frosted glass. Her initial expression of surprise and delight was boundless. Then she leaned in close to me and whispered. “Is it okay? Did the doctor say I could have it?” I assured her that the doctor had given permission for her to have a beer with her meal, and I stood by her side as she took the first sip. I believe I enjoyed the smile on her face as much as she enjoyed the beer.

She only took a few sips, but the pleasure of the whole experience was much more important than the beer itself.  To serve someone who has served so many and is now alone in the world is a great privilege.  Taking time to share in the simple pleasures of life and fully acknowledge the person we are caring for is one of the greatest gifts we can give, and that we can receive."


Cam Hawkins, Beth Israel School of Nursing, 2009

"I am inspired by simple things that a patient of mine might do: a genuine smile masked by gripping pain, a caring touch if even done by the stroke of a finger, or an almost inaudible thank-you."


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