Priceless Moments of Human Interaction
It was another hectic day at the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Duke University Hospital. Chris Fry, RN, BSN, was taking care of a 65-year-old man who had received a heart transplant the day before. Fry started waking him up for the first time after the transplant. After a while, the patient’s family left the room for dinner, and the patient’s call bell rang. When Fry entered, the patient asked him if he could make the room a little bit more peaceful.
“I shut off the bright fluorescent lights, muted the TV, and closed the curtains,” says Fry, a second-year student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with specialization in Nurse Anesthesia program. “Before I left, I asked if he needed anything, and he asked me to sit next to him, where his wife had been. He put out his hand for me to hold, and I asked what can I do? He smiled at me and said: ‘Nothing, nothing at all. I just want to sit here and listen to my new heart beat for the first time.’”
Fry chose nursing as a career because of those personal connections that he can develop with patients. “This one to two minutes of truly strong human interactions are priceless,” he says. “They do not happen every shift and not even every week, but when they do, they are unforgettable. And it’s moments like these that propelled me towards a career in nurse anesthesia.”
Fry says that the best part about becoming a nurse anesthetist is the relationships he can form with his patients. He has only ten minutes to instill trust and confidence in patients and their families before the operation. During the operation, he feels privileged and honored to be the patients’ voice and advocate. “And after the surgery, it’s a privilege to be the first one to wake them up and let them know that they are safe,” he says.
Nursing is a fast-paced job and sometimes, says Fry, nurses can lose track and forget that they work with real people who are going through probably the most traumatic event in their lives. “Interactions like this show me that I am a milestone in someone’s life, and that I am able to enhance that moment for that person,” he says.
Fry’s initial plan was to continue working as a nurse at the bedside until his fiancé, Britney, completed a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree with specialization in nurse anesthesia at Duke University School of Nursing. With rent and living costs, they could not afford going to school at the same time. However, Fry decided to apply to Duke knowing that the only way he can afford it would be if he could get a scholarship. The School of Nursing offered him the Duke University Medical Faculty Wives Scholarship, which supports students in the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing. “This scholarship is the reason why Britney and I are here together as classmates. We are very lucky and grateful for that.”
By Aliza Inbari
September 21, 2018
“This one to two minutes of truly strong human interactions are priceless. They do not happen every shift and not even every week, but when they do, they are unforgettable. And it’s moments like these that propelled me towards a career in nurse anesthesia.”