After 10 years as a critical care nurse in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Muhlenberg, Marygrace (Grace) Kressly, RN, draws strength from her patients and their families.
“I cannot fail them. I have to be strong for them,” says Kressly. “Our patients are very sick and their families are vulnerable. We act as beacons of hope during times of despair.”
A heart for patient care
Nursing is often described not as a career, but as a calling. Kressly knew she was going to be a nurse when she was very young. Her sister is also a nurse – so she thinks it must run in the family. “It’s always challenging to be a nurse but this job is really, really close to my heart,” she says.
Working in an ICU, most often with patients who had open-heart surgery or have complex heart conditions, means that Kressly works closely with a multidisciplinary team of cardiothoracic surgeons, pharmacists, dieticians, occupational therapists and cardiac rehabilitation specialists to collaborate on patient care. Each morning starts with a huddle to address the care plan for patients on the unit. The patient and family have the opportunity to give input and ask questions, which gives the care team a chance to provide real-time education.
“It’s important for the patient and their family to know the team involved in their care,” says Kressly. “As a nurse, one of the most important things I do is advocate for my patients. I see them every day and I help them understand the care that’s being provided by the whole team.”
Making an impact
Nursing students and newly licensed nurses often seek advice from experienced nurses who can provide not only clinical practice advice, but also career advice. Kressly encourages continuous learning. “No question is too big or too small to go unasked,” she says. “It’s important to broaden your horizons and seek out help when you need it.”
After 10 years at LVH–Muhlenberg, Kressly still looks forward to coming back to work every day. “I just love my co-workers. They are the best team ever,” she says. “Everybody helps each other and you’re never alone.”
What matters most
At the end of the day, nursing is all about compassion – compassion for your patients, for their family and for your colleagues.
“The most important thing is how we treat our patients. Looking into their eyes or holding their hand – a simple gesture or kind word matters more than anything else.”