2011 Winning Essay
The Valley Foundation School of Nursing at San Jose State University San Jose, CA
Although all four of the nurses in the film “A Nurse I Am” exemplify many extraordinary qualities of care that most other nurses are still striving to master, the one that I identified in a few of them as the most admirable with the most significant effect on the outcome of their patients’ health was supreme and unrelenting sense of respect. It was obvious in the video that there was a tremendous amount of mutual respect between the chronically ill patients and their nurses, and this unique tie between them bettered the patients beyond the physical spectrum that medicines can treat. Providing adequate care to patients means addressing all of their needs – the psychological and social as well- not just the physical symptoms that brought them into the hospital. These exceptional nurse provided this well-rounded care and were nominated for their “inspired comfort awards” because of this well-rounded care.
While there are certain attributes form each of the nurses in the film that I would like to combine and emulate in my own nursing care now as a student and in the future once I have my R.N. degree, the one that strikes me most is showing compassionate respect towards patients. Different nurses can be taught to utilize the exact same skills and initiate the same interventions to treat patients with identical medical conditions; however, the effects of that identical care on the different patients can have drastically different results. Good nurses provide care with the precise quality of a well-trained employee ding his/her job, but great nurses are able to provide better care because of the invisible (however nearly tangible) bond that they are able to form with their patients due to the nature of a natural caretaker who sees this field as more than a decent way to pay the bills. It take a special person with special sensitivity and integrity to care for a patient as a whole.
In the film, I listened to a nurse talk to the patient about her history before asking the patient for permission to gather more invasive assessment data (through auscultation). I saw nurse Bob Wilkinson check with his pediatric patient before sitting down on the patient’s bed. I feel that this – reserving respect for our patients as fellow humans first, and secondly as patients who have come to us seeking help – is a vital component to providing the most basic and necessary care, but is often forgotten. Showing respect to patients lets them know we value them as individuals and care about their needs. When the patient sees how valued (s) he is by health care providers, (s) he is more encouraged, and since the patient’s attitude matters a great deal in the process of his/ her care and the quality of his/ her life, his/ her condition can dramatically improve. It is the easiest of courtesies to pay our clients, but all too frequently, this emphasis of respect for human dignity is left out of the care provider’s professional performance. Patients who seek medical attention actively want care, but they also maintain the right to make decisions about the care they receive, including refusing any specific type of care. Since it is a patient’s moral right to be involved in planning and executing a plan of care for him/ herself, why not be polity and respectful about it? No one wants to be diminished to insignificance, especially when already in a vulnerable situation, such as a hospital setting.
During my clinical experiences at four separate facilities, I have witnessed health care professionals refer to their patients as “the appendectomy at the end of the hall,” etc. I understand and respect the need for complying with HIPAA regulations for patient confidentiality, but I feel that reducing patients to the diseases or conditions that they are seeking treatment for takes the humanity out of nursing care and labels patients as biological disease processes in hospital beds. It is situations like these that inspire me to practice the greatest respect toward my patients in my nursing care. It is up to me to make the change so that patients can be seen and referred to the more personal, respectable light.