In 1992 I was a University of Utah nursing student in my first med/surg clinical rotation. I was really struggling learning new skills like medication management and charting. I was flustered after getting all tangled up in my patient’s IV lines (He thought it was funny) and went looking for my clinical instructor, Kathleen Kaufman. I found her in a room sitting next to a patient’s bed. She was holding his hand, stroking his brow and just listening to him. The look on his face was peaceful and calm. She was simply being present with him and I felt I had stumbled into a sacred moment. Well, it was certainly sacred for me because I said to myself, “That’s the kind of nurse I want to be.” Caring, kind, taking time out to just “be” with patients. From then on I focused less on skill development and more on relationship development with those I cared for. Seeing Kathleen with that patient changed everything for me and I will be ever grateful to her for that.
Yesterday it was my privilege to tell this story to a large group of people who gathered to honor Kathleen. Afterwards, I had a nice discussion with a few people who said, they too had experiences where one person made a huge difference in their lives. I’m so glad I have crossed paths with Kathleen. We ended up working together as professors at the University of Utah College of Nursing several years ago. She has cancer now and is still an example of strength and kindness. The picture her is of me with her and Liz Harald, another outstanding nursing instructor I have had the pleasure to know. My life is blessed with inspiring people.
After a wonderful first day back at work where I received lots of hugs and words of kindness about Steve, I came home to a jolly snowman in the front yard built by my family. Honestly, it was another sacred moment for me, reminding me how important my family is and how simple things can bring me so much joy.