My two greatest fears before starting my pediatric rotation were finding common ground with a critically ill child and looking incompetent. The second fear seemed easy enough to conquer if I studied the material prior to my clinical days. The first one, however, would be more difficult and out of my control. How would I care for a child that might not have long to live? What topics do I bring up in conversation? What if I slip up and make an inappropriate joke? These questions would prove to be a hinderance to my care of a patient who just wanted to be treated like everyone else.

My clinical partner Diana and I were tasked with taking the vitals of our patient, J.R., first thing in the morning. The 18-year-old, schedule 1A cardiac transplant patient we were assigned meant that this was not going to be an easy day. My approach was very professional as I used my penlight to find the patient’s blood pressure cuff and inspect the safety measures of the dimly lit room at 7:15 a.m. With my free hand hiding the beam of light from my sleeping patient’s eyes, I searched around the bed for a mere second before I heard a voice from above saying, “Are you looking for this?” As J.R. handed me the blood pressure cuff that was wrapped around the left side rail of his bed it was clear to me that my second fear had just become realized.

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