By Harvey D. Kart
In the interest of full disclosure: I am about to sing the praises of a remarkable woman who for reasons still confusing to me chose to become my wife 39 years ago. I have shared her with thousands of individuals I have never met, but whose lives were made immensely better for having known her even if, in some cases, only briefly.
My wife Bernie is a nurse—and in my humble opinion, an exceptional nurse. After nearly 46 years of providing professional and compassionate care to people in three states, she has decided to retire.
The healthcare industry will be all the less because of her departure.
Bernie, like many of her colleagues, is that rare individual whose commitment to her profession, and more importantly to the people she served, never wavered. She followed a career path similar to many others of her generation. She attended a two-year diploma program through the Pittsburgh Hospital School of Nursing, then began working at Eye & Ear Hospital until her division shifted to Montefiore Hospital. When our family relocated, first to Florida, and now Atlanta, Bernie spent her past seven years serving in surgery centers.
Some of you know that there is little glamour associated with being a nurse. The hours can be irregular and grueling. But for most days you interface with the best and brightest doctors in the country as they apply the latest procedures to patients with cancer, heart disease, or other devastating health issues. I’ve estimated—with great pride, I might add—that Bernie has assisted in nearly 100,000 surgeries in her career.
For nurses, other tasks are as varied and unpredictable as the individuals they serve, such as responding to patients’ calls in the middle of the night to have a pillow fluffed or nerves calmed, or meeting with distraught family members wanting more than anything to hear a soothing voice say, “it’s going to be okay.”
Bernie, like so many other nurses, understands that true job satisfaction comes from within. There are few if any thank you cards or notes. In fact, few patients who just days earlier might have seen their nurses as personal angels of mercy would recognize them on the street or even in the halls of the hospital. But I can assure you that Bernie remembers so many of them and to this day hopes they continue to do well.
Bernie was a perfect fit for her profession and it will be the lesser when she leaves. She did her job well, she shared what she could with other nurses and healthcare professionals, and she never stopped improving. She truly is a much better nurse today than when she started.
The good news is that she assures me she knows personally a number of nurses who share in her commitment to healthcare and, even more important, her patients. I assure you that Bernie inspired others by her example not just at work but at home. Our daughter, Kristen, as well as our grandkids Kenzie and Karter, and I are simply in awe of this woman we are blessed to call her mom, “nanny,” and partner.
If you worked with Bernie and you’d like to share your own personal memories, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.