Christine Snow
October 2022
Adult Emergency Department
The Johns Hopkins Hospital
United States




Chris told the patient she would be in her thoughts and gave her condolences, and the patient wheeled away slightly stronger.
While working in the Emergency Department, it is common to become complacent or unperturbed by the traumas of life. We suppress these emotions so we can continue to come back the next day, and care for the next trauma. But working next to this nurse on a day in October, I can say the effects of the ED have not taken the compassion and care out of this nurse’s practice.

That day, tragedy hit the emergency department when a patient was involved in a motor vehicle accident that left herself immobilized, one of her children dead, and the other two in critical condition. This assignment would weigh heavily on any seasoned nurse, but as a newly practicing nurse, Chris Snow felt the emotion of her assignment during shift report, and immediately placed her own emotion in the back of her head. She showed tenderhearted kindness to this grieving mother for the entire shift. Chris did everything possible to ease the physical pain of the patient while the ortho team manipulated her broken bones. Chris did everything possible to ease the emotional anguish of the patient as the terrors of her reality began to unveil. Chris comforted this patient in every way possible and did not once falter her support. As the neighboring nurse, I watched Chris suppress the emotion that the entire department felt that day and focused only on the patient’s well-being. Chris had this patient for the majority of the day, and as the patient was being transferred out of the department, Chris dropped everything to say her final goodbyes and respect. While being pushed away, the patient reached for Chris's arm and cried a very tearful thank you. Chris told the patient she would be in her thoughts and gave her condolences, and the patient wheeled away slightly stronger. At that point, the entire emotion of the day hit Chris like a bag of bricks. I watched as Chris walked out of the department, and followed close behind to check on her well-being. I found her, having a brief and well-deserved cry. After debriefing the day, and a hug, Chris returned to her remaining patients, and finished the day strong.

As an ED nurse, it is hard to feel these emotions, and many of us suppress them to get through another shift. But Chris's compassion and empathy that day surpasses any nursing care I have ever witnessed and, in my opinion, made the patient's pain slightly less than it would have been with any other nurse.