If you have set foot into the medical world, then you have probably been impacted by the work of a nurse. All across the country, nurses are the caretakers, advocates, teachers, and friends who make caring happen.

Come along with us as we open the doors to the world of nursing. What does it take to be a nurse? What kind of impact do nurses have on their patients? Why is nursing such a meaningful career?

It’s time to hear the stories of how nurses change lives.

By Her Brother’s Side

When Madeline M. was in high school, her little brother’s many health issues caused him to frequent the hospital for appointments and surgeries. Although the sight of blood or needles made her squeamish, Madeline always put on a brave face and stood by her brother’s side when he begged for his “big sis” to come along.

Despite the struggle of seeing her brother in pain, observing his care proved to be an influential experience for Madeline. “Through all the appointments and trips to the hospital, I admired every single nurse who took part in his care. If something was wrong, they were the first ones to know it. When my brother didn’t want any more ‘pokes’ or ‘ouchies,’ it wasn’t my family or I who consoled him — it was the nurses. They treated my brother and our family like we were their own.”

As Madeline observed her brother’s care during those early years, she came to realize that nursing is “not all about needles, blood, and germs.” Instead, she explains, “It’s about caring and the willingness to help not only a child, but their whole family, in some of the hardest times of their life. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else!”

Why Home Health Nursing?

Today, Madeline serves the Pittsburgh region as a home health nurse, a specialty that was inspired by her brother’s experiences. “I find great satisfaction in taking care of a child in the comfort of their home,” she explains. “When we see patients at home, it means that they are one step closer to getting better. Though they may still have multiple health issues, being home is a huge step in the recovery process.”

As a home health nurse, Madeline gets to follow a patient for weeks at a time and witness their improvement each week until discharge. Often, the patient and their nurses form a close bond which plays an important role in the patient’s recovery. Madeline’s role allows her to experience the day-to-day life of her patients and help them get back to every day routines.

As the eyes and ears of their patients, home health nurses carry a great deal of responsibility. Given the independent setting of her work, Madeline often needs to be innovative in the way that she delivers care. “I’ve learned to be creative when going into a patient’s home, as sometimes resources are limited,” Madeline says.

A Life-Changing Impact

In her first week as a home health nurse, Madeline was assigned to a pediatric patient who was coming off a 79-day stint in the hospital. The child had arrived home just two hours before their first meeting, accompanied by a heart monitoring system and feeding tube.

While the family had received guidance in the hospital, their child’s care practices were new and foreign. They were incredibly thankful to have Madeline’s support on their first day back home in 79 days.

For the next four months, Madeline followed and cared for the patient, guiding the child’s recovery and ensuring that the family was comfortable with their child’s care. Throughout their time, Madeline says, the patient improved tremendously. “The day I discharged the patient from home health, the patient’s mother gave me a huge hug as I was leaving our last home visit. She began crying and thanked me multiple times. She kept saying, ‘I couldn’t have done this without you.’”

As a home health nurse, Madeline’s care is deeply meaningful and incredibly personal — care that she is honored to give. “It is such a privilege to care for the patients and their families in the home and help them with every day challenges that they face.”