Nursing Values: Three Lessons I've Learned from Patient Care

In nursing, you see people pass away and new life enter this great world. This transition often changes you as a person and you learn nursing lessons along the way. Even in situations that are not "life or death" you can learn many things from patient care. I could probably give you at least one lesson from each patient I've had, but here are my top three lessons.

Value Every Moment

As a nurse, I've seen countless people at their worst- from patients in the final stages of cancer to a fatal snake bite. Regardless of the patient's origin or their injury, I've learned that certain situations lead them to assess their own lives. When a person is at death's door, I often hear them say, "I wish I had spent more time living instead of just surviving." So, I've learned, from my patients, to value every moment.

Sit down for once and watch the sunset, take time to play with your daughter or son on the playground for once in your life... just have fun, see the world and notice the amazing moments. Often as adults, we focus on paying bills and pleasing bosses only, ignoring the periphery of our lives. Instead of truly enjoying our lives by taking that vacation and spending time with our loved ones, we focus on the work of life only. Once you're immobile or bed-bound, or even on death's door, you won't get these opportunities. Trust me, your physical condition isn't always within your control. Young or old, life changes, and physical limitations occur. So live while you can, love while you can...and value each and every moment.

Stay In Touch

Always stay in contact with family and friends if the relationship is a healthy one. Nothing is worse than seeing someone pass who has no loved ones by their side due a fight from years past. Regardless of your disagreements with loved ones, always look to resolve problems sooner rather than later, because you might not get a second chance to communicate with that person. Nothing is sadder than someone's sibling passing and them not getting to say their goodbye and things ending on negative terms. Don't assume you will always have time to resolve things, because you might not. Cherish family, stay in touch and never blindly ignore a member of your family. They are the ones that will be there in the end. You only have one mother, one father, one sister... value that bond. Set your feelings aside and allow that line of communication to stay open...stay in touch with your loved ones and friends. It will be worth it in the end.

Take Your Health Seriously

Last but not least, take your health seriously. From smoking to ignoring signs and symptoms of obvious medical issues, people ignore their health as if they have other bodies to use when their own is used up. See your primary care physician regularly, get your blood work done yearly, or when applicable. Lastly, manage your current condition as recommended by your physician. I hate seeing people go blind or start hemodialysis due to uncontrolled diabetes mellitus. Some conditions are permanent and irreversible, yet largely preventable.

Don't roll the dice with your health... take your medications, get those screenings, make that appointment. I know taking time out of your day is annoying but that appointment could save your life or limb, and you're going to need both.

Be serious about your health. Stay in touch with your family and friends. And value each and every moment of this amazing life! You don't have to be a nurse to learn from others, but since I am, I take my lessons where I find them. Thank you to my patients…you have taught me well.

Nacole Riccaboni is a board certified registered nurse currently in school to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. On her self-entitled blog, Nurse Nacole posts daily nursing tips, along with advice on nursing academics, licensing exams, professionalism and nursing school success. is honored to share her thoughts on what she has learned from her patients over the years, and we welcome you to share your own comments as well.