Nursing Tales from the Bedside

An image from “A Sense of Purpose: What it Means to Be A Nurse,” a new book by Northwell Health’s nurses.

“I was caring for an infant, a soldier’s baby, who was very sick and would not survive. This strong man came in and was terrified…”

So begins one of the nearly 70 stories from A Sense of Purpose: What it Means to Be a Nurse, a book of essays produced by Northwell Health . Written by nurses from across Northwell’s 21-hospital system, the print and online edition of the book is being distributed to more than 15,000 nurses across the health system’s facilities during Nurses Week (May 6-12).  It will also be featured in the Northwell podcast series Health Story , which launched last month.

“Back in October, our nurses submitted essays about their profession as part of a Harry Connick, Jr. Show  contest,” said Maureen White, RN, Northwell’s chief nursing officer.  “In reading through the essays, we found the stories told from the bedside extraordinary in their compassion, empathy and dedication. They are a celebration of life in the face of illness and death told by the gifted people who are able to provide care in the most difficult circumstances.  We wanted to share their voices and stories to as many people as we could.”

The story of the soldier’s baby is one example from the book.  Written by Christine Porter, RN, a nurse at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, she tells the story of how she inked the dying baby’s foot and made an imprint on the soldier’s arm.  Ms. Porter wrote:

The father began to weep.  He said it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen and it was his son’s. The father made contact with me afterward to thank me …he took that imprint I gave him and had it tattooed permanently on his arm along with his son’s name.He said I gave him something to carry with him for all of his days and that I helped him get through the most difficult days of his life.

For more nursing stories from A Sense of Purpose: What it Means to Be a Nurse:

About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 21 hospitals and over 550 outpatient facilities. We care for more than two million people annually in the metro New York area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 61,000 employees – 15,000+ nurses and nearly 3,400 physicians, including nearly 2,700 members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine and the School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. And we offer health insurance through CareConnect. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit

Brian Mulligan                                                
(516) 321-6773