Compassionate Care: A Passion That Inspired Three Generations Of Nurses

How many of us go off to our jobs each day with the goal of providing compassionate care? The Grassel family of Grand Forks, North Dakota, does. Kelly Grassel, who has been a nurse for 25 years, manages the cardiac unit at a local hospital. Her mother, Jan Sanders, worked as a nurse in the same hospital for 29 years before retiring in 2011. Kelly’s son, Cody, graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and is now working in the same hospital as his mother. While the community has a lot of second-generation nurses, seeing three generations of nursing in one family suggests there’s something special going on.

That “something special” is a passion for caring for the sick, and it shows in how the Grassels do their jobs. As Chief Nurse Executive Margaret Reed told the Grand Forks Herald, “One of the most important things you’ll see in all three individuals is that they are intentionally present to the patient.” Kelly agrees: “I think it’s like a calling. It’s the relationship part, the ability to connect with people and go alongside of them. The art of nursing is that relationship part.”

It’s easy to see how providing compassionate care is an integral part of nursing, but the engineers, architects, and accountants among us have to be a little more creative. We can provide compassionate care to our co-workers, our customers, and our families by being really present for the people around us. Regardless of the context, focusing on the relationship and on making that connection can help us avoid a lot of misunderstandings. It could also be the spark for contagious kindness. When people know that you really see them, instead of just passing by in a blur, they feel valued. And people who feel valued tend to want to spread that feeling around. So, they, in turn, are intentionally kind to the people they encounter — and so it continues. What can you do, right now, to be intentionally present and really see the person you’re with?

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