2015 Winning Essay

The 2015 A Nurse I Am Scholarship winners were asked to address the following: Patients and their family members base their perceptions of the care received on their personal experience with the medical personnel they interact with. After viewing the film "A Nurse I Am":
(1) Describe how the nurses in the film build a positive rapport with patients and their family members; and
(2) How will you ensure that you provide those you care for with a positive healthcare experience?

Clyde Smith

Baldy View Regional Occupational Program

The nursing profession can be thankless, demanding, and fraught with long hours. It is a daily challenge and never ending battle, one that myself and nurses everywhere have found to be endlessly rewarding. The perceptions of nursing practice held by our clients and their families is directly tied to every day interactions within hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and homes in the community. The way Mona Counts, Bob Wilkinson, and Artis Busch cared for their clients was inspirational to me. Using passion, patient education, and personal balance they practiced with a dedication that I hope to match every time I put on my scrubs.

Passion is the love of and dedication to one's work. Each nurse expresses this in their own way and it shines over clients and their families. Bob, the nurse oncologist, said the hardest part of his job was not the sick children, but being unable to comfort the parents. Singing Marry Poppins on his rounds, he brought an inner light with him into every room and spoke of giving over his “whole entity.” Mona, the nurse practitioner, has a community clinic with 5,000 patients in a small Appalachian town. She knows everyone by name and describes the importance of getting to know the patient and the person. On her home visits, she looks through photo albums with her patient and genuinely wants them to get well. Artis, the nurse manager, describes treating patients as people and not as conditions. She speaks of giving and in that, she will receive. Although expressed differently by each nurse, their passion was evident throughout and as I begin my own nursing journey, I hope to bring with me the same empathy and sincerity as my own personal standard.

Obvious in the film was not only the knowledge of the nurses, but the skill they used when passing that knowledge onto the client. Education is a fundamental tenant of nursing and by empowering our clients we give them the tools needed to heal. By translating the morning labs, Bob opened up channels of communication between not only parent and child, but their doctor as well. As Mona explained the results of the Folstein Test to the elderly man, she helped him find the ability within himself to face the challenges ahead. Artis stayed with her client well after the doctor left and answered all of his questions, providing him with a pen and paper as he could not speak. These tools can save lives and inspire participation; in turn forging clients into advocates for themselves. Educating myself and using this knowledge to help my clients understand health as function and not just a lack of disease is something I believe in and embrace as a part of my profession.

However, in order to care for others you must first be able to care for yourself. Finding one's center is not only important to nursing, but is a fundamental human condition. A beautiful dichotomy was shown in Bob's life as he shared his spirituality with the audience and then shared his knowledge of chemotherapy with a patient. As a single mother who is putting her children through nursing school, Artis balances the demands of her job, all the while passing the same skills and purpose on to her children. Mona is shown in solitary tending both her field and existential quandaries in an Appalachian take on meditation she calls “Tractor Time.” This balance and reflection is what grants nurses the strength to give themselves to those in need, and is the most important trait shown in the film. In my own life I encounter the daily struggle of balancing school, clinicals, work, and family, but it is a struggle that I am driven to embrace in order to craft the life I desire for myself.

After watching this film I feel excited to hone my own passion and teaching skills, and to strike that balance within my own life and future practice. These skills along with the skills I am learning in school will help ensure that I provide those I care for with a positive healthcare experience. My continued education in the nursing field and the knowledge I obtain from my instructors and patient interactions give me the tools I need to move closer in my life to the standard of nursing care set forth in this film.

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