As a professional speaker, I have the privilege of sharing many stories with my audiences. As a speaker, I have struggled with content…with how to make my point and generate an emotion, a reaction, to tug at the heart and to influence the mind. Many of my stories are based on my nursing platform! Think about it – with years of nursing in a diversity of settings and countries, I have some unique stories to share. I reflect on my early nursing career and the situations I faced; I also reflect on my responses. In the early 70’s, I was working at a historic hospital that was founded in 1751 by none other than Benjamin Franklin. I was told that Franklin had to be secretary of the hospital rather than president because he was not a wealthy man. I never knew how true that story was, nor did I ever question it.
My position was in the Emergency Room (now euphemistically known as the Emergency Department), and I worked nights because the money was better! The hospital was truly historic, and the ER had its own special history, some of which would make the popular TV show, “Scandal” look mild. For example, the back stairs to the ER had seen lots of action, and not from patients. Our ER functioned like a fine-tuned machine, and our services even included de-licing prior to admission to one of the wards. Our patients were regulars, and we kept file cards (not computer records) on each of the regulars, many of whom stopped by for drugs, and I don’t mean drugs for the heart, blood pressure, or infection, although we did see lots of STDs. Our lay-out was not unlike the Florence Nightingale design of years ago, and our medication room, self-contained, had a transom window, solid wood door, and a lock that opened with what looked like a skeleton key. One night, mid-shift in the knife and gun club, I was confronted by a gun-wielding man who demanded “the drugs.” The lone security guard in the ER had taken a break, and the physician and resident were both napping (an advantage of working nights). I found myself alone with the armed man and I needed to act quickly. Customer-service oriented, I promptly led him to the rear of the ER where the medication room was located and allowed him to peruse the inventory. He was so involved in the process that he never noticed when I left the room, slamming the door behind me and locking him inside with that trusty skeleton key. Shots were fired through the door, marring the beautiful wood finish. Philadelphia’s finest were called to the rescue and escorted our would-be patient into the paddy-wagon. No-one was harmed during this mild break in a night’s routine. We finished the shift by providing great care to those in need, de-licing along the way, and band-aiding the damaged door! And, I had a new storyline.