2015 Winning Essays

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?

Daryl Lew

California State University San Marcos

“I am a nurse to help people.” This simple sentiment by Bob is undoubtedly shared by most nurses who choose to enter into the profession. Sadly however, as nurses, it is easy to become mechanical. Bob alluded to this by saying “the goal is to know how the patient and family feels or you can get lost in the machines, beeps, etc.” We are so preoccupied with what supplies we need, what procedures need to be done, and how to do them that we start performing our role through a task-focused lens rather than a patient-focused one. Some nurses are naturally inclined to be more patient-oriented – always in tune with the patient experience – like Bob; and some are not. This is a skill. With practice, “awareness” can be improved like other skills in nursing. Just as we rehearse how to start an IV or discontinue a Foley in our heads, we can keep reminding ourselves to always check on the patient, and survey their needs each time we have contact with them.

Bob explains that patients and families “look to nurses for guidance and strength.” This is why it is imperative to build rapport with patients and families while striving to develop a therapeutic relationship thus facilitating a positive healthcare experience. The nurses in the film provide a positive healthcare experience by providing dignity, treating the patients as partners, and adopting a service attitude ultimately helping the patients to regain the independence that is stripped as a result of being ill.

A great lesson in patient-care relationships was evident with Mona, the nurse practitioner. She truly exemplifies a service attitude. In building rapport, she sacrifices by working many long hours, and shows compassion for her patients by acknowledging their different circumstances, and providing care as a priority – then worries about solving the financial piece of the puzzle after. Mona’s treatment of her patients as individuals – for example, going to her patients homes – is so crucial to nursing. In an awesome display of the length that she goes to serve her patients – she visited the woman who shared her wedding anniversary photos with Mona, the gentleman with diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, and finally the woman who wished to finish the last days of her life in her own home.

In relation to treating the patient, Artes Bush stated “you have to treat the whole person – their feelings…etc.” I will infer that this includes the family as well. Viewing patients and families as individuals as well an individual unit is essential to nursing because when illness affects a patient, the family is also affected. Therefore, in dealing with illness, the patient and family are not exclusive – illness affects the patient as well as family members – so if we are patient advocates, we are also advocates for the family. This is perhaps the most familiar to Bob, who has seen the toll cancer takes on the patients and families alike and is equally therapeutic in serving the patient as well as the family.

From these three nurses I have learned selflessness and service, to get lost in the patient – not the task, and to view the patient as a whole. This can be achieved by placing patients at the heart of nursing care. It is also important to recognize that families also exist at this core of care. Therefore, I will do my utmost to provide a positive healthcare experience for patients by upholding the basic tenet of nursing – that patient care is always patient-centered. By using these measures in providing care, these nurses are able to establish an open relationship that invites dialogue between the patient (and family) and care team, and shows respect for their values and concerns regarding their care. Furthermore, when I begin working as a nurse, I can help to encourage my fellow nurses about the importance of patient/family-centered care. Hopefully, by promoting principles that value the importance of the patient-nurse relationship, I can help to advocate for patient/family-centered care as a dominant ideology throughout the realm of health care while fulfilling my duty to provide a positive healthcare environment.

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