A Day in the Life of a Nurse

by Team Onco

There is a very meaningful quote on the work that a nurse does:

Nurse: just another word to describe a person strong enough to tolerate anything and soft enough to understand anyone.”

In this session of “A Day in the Life of…” we speak with Nurse Divya Darshini, a nurse at American Oncology Institute.

Nurses are often silent worker ants, who unceasingly bustle around hospitals and clinics making sure everything is managed efficiently. One such nurse is Nurse Divya. Originally from Kerala, she has worked in major hospitals around the country for the last 15 years. 

Here’s looking at the workings of a nurse’s mind and what it takes to take care of people round the clock. 

How it began

Nurse Divya’s mother was a nurse who spent most of her working hours in the operation theatre, assisting doctors through critical procedures. 

Growing up, Divya wanted to be just like her mother. Listening to her mother talk about her work made Divya want to study medicine. 

While most of us think of a hospital as an unhappy place, associating it with sickness, Nurse Divya couldn’t wait to start her career at a hospital. In fact, she wanted to be a part of the most hectic department: the emergency department. 

Being there to save someone’s life, working with her hands, on her feet, using her words to sooth and instruct at the same time; that was the sort of career Nurse Divya envisioned for herself. 

However, she found herself in a department she had not quite considered: oncology. The challenges here were quite different to that of an emergency department. 

A complex disease like cancer requires months of treatment and the patients tend to form a bond of familiarity with the medical staff who attend to them, particularly the nurses. 

The Most Difficult Part

According to Nurse Divya, the worst part of her job is helping break bad news to patients and their families. She recalls speaking to the mother of a two year-old with cancer. Watching the mother holding on to her child and crying was the most painful experience for Divya. She could not help but put herself in the mother’s shoes. Motherhood is precious and to know that you will lose your child is unbearable for anyone. 

Of course, on a daily basis, there are many pressures. The patients and caregivers tend to expect the nurses to fix everything. If they are unhappy with the lunch served, or with the services of housekeeping, they expect the nurse to take care of it. In that sense, nurses are the communications team, linking the patient to all other departments. 

Often the patients and caregivers end up taking their frustrations out on the nurse on duty; shouting at them or complaining about them. But Nurse Divya doesn’t seem to mind that. She thinks it’s natural for patients in such stressful situations to feel a lot more anger and stress than the rest of us. So if they need to vent, then they should. 

It’s this spirit of acceptance and patience that has helped her last for all these years in a highly demanding profession. She considers handling stress part of the job description. 


Double shifts

Once she finishes her shift at work, Nurse Divya goes home to her husband and two children. Her job as a mother starts then. 

Cooking for the kids, making sure they have their dinner, assisting them with homework, listening to their stories about school and friends, preparing for the next day … all of this goes into her evening. 

She is very clear that the stress from the hospital cannot be allowed into the home. It has to be left behind. At home, there are different things to figure out and stress about. These things also deserve her full attention and she cannot compromise on her duties towards her home. 

Like many women today. Nurse Divya juggles between work and home like an expert, soaking in the needs and expectations of patients and her family with equal calm. 

How does she relax? She feels listening to her children talk is relaxing. Having a good chat with her colleagues at work is also relaxing. It is these light moments in between that help her retain her energy and cheefulness. 

Advice to young nurses

Nurse Divya knows that many young women are attracted to nursing as a profession because it fetches better salaries and could help them go abroad as well. She wants to tell them that being a nurse is much more than salary and job opportunities. 

Nursing requires a lot of endurance, be it accepting harsh words from caregivers and patients, to being pulled up by doctors or senior nurses for mistakes. 

It also requires empathy. Nurse Divya clarifies that it is not sympathy, but empathy that a nurse is required to give her patients. Being able to see the situation from their perspective helps us be patient towards them. However bad your day has been, it’s not going to be a s bad as the day your patient is having. Remembering this, helps her keep her own reactions in check. 

Thank you, nurses!

When we talk about oncology, we often allude to experts and scientists who are at the forefront of innovative treatments. But the main pillar of our treatment units are our nurses who manage our patients’ needs on a daily basis. Without them, not just our patients, but even our oncologists would find their day far more difficult to manage. 

Onco.com thanks all the nurses for their relentless service to humanity. 


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