Insignificant Actions

People can be difficult and rude. Sometimes accommodating and charitable. What’s a nurse to do?

Julie Nyhus MSN, FNP-BC


Photo by Luis Müller on Unsplash

“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” — Mahatma Gandhi


One afternoon, during my first week as the Admission’s Coordinator for a local home health company, I pulled up in front of a two-story home with a bright orange “Eviction” sticker posted on the front door.

I’d been summoned to see a retired high school history teacher who’d lost his left lower leg and two toes on his right foot to diabetes.

Mike was 68-years-old, the size of an eighth grade girl, with blood-dried gauze around his left knee stump, and a handgun peeking out from under his right buttock.

After yelling “come in” from the couch, the next thing out of his mouth when he saw me was a disturbing comment regarding his male anatomy and the shape of my lips.

I won’t share the comment but he did manage to be sexist, demeaning, and grotesque in just a few words.

As a writer, I could only hope for such brevity of words. I looked at him. I don’t know what I expected.

Perhaps an apology?

A strange laugh to transition toward the real reason I was there?

He looked away. Now what?


As a nurse for more than 20 years, this wasn’t the first patient to test me.

The test was not aimed at my patience but rather my ability to hold on my principles.

In nursing, as in the wide scope of medicine, every life is of equal worth — a foundational principle that felt slippery at that particular moment. According to the 2022 annual Gallup poll at least 85% of Americans have rated the ‘honesty’ and ‘ethical standards’ of nurses as ‘high’ or ‘very high’ since 1999 (Gallup, 2022).

As the most trusted profession is the United States, the underlying theme of universal human value is paramount within nursing but that doesn’t mean that we always live up…



Julie Nyhus MSN, FNP-BC

Nurse practitioner, health/medical writer, wife, momma, amazing badass rocking 10 years without evidence of cancer! Twitter @joolzfnp