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?

Brett Mentuck

North Shore Community College

I watched “A Nurse I Am” in my computer lab at school with my earphones on, surrounded by other students. I half expected to spend the next 30 minutes twiddling my thumbs, wishing I could use the time to study for my pharm quiz or practicing for a skills pass-off instead. What a surprise to find myself - only ten minutes in - totally intrigued, emotionally invested, and occasionally wiping tears from my eyes! Honestly, despite my desperate need for a better pharm grade, I decided then and there that I needed to watch the full-length film after clinical that night, as well. And not because it was recommended to do so for this scholarship opportunity, but because I wanted to. I wanted to see more of these nurses, and hear more of their stories.

Ardis, Mona, Bob and Angela are exceptional nurses, who provide authentic, holistic care to their patients. Ardis’ hand on her patient’s shoulder, her warm, welcoming smile while they talked, and her reassurance that her patient’s pain would be dealt with promptly seemed to put her patient right at ease. Mona, sitting on the stool below her patient who was afraid he had early signs of Alzheimer’s, talking with him, not at him, and taking the time to listen to each of his concerns, established sincere trust. And Bob, who took the time to care for his patient and his family, providing calm support while also digging through the toy bins for his patients favorite army men… well, that takes sincere dedication and an intuitive understanding that if his environment is as comfortable as it can be, the patient is going to be more relaxed and receptive to medical care. And if the care is being provided by a nurse who is authentic, considers his family’s whole story, and listens attentively to their concerns, the patient’s experience will be meaningful.

Prior to nursing school and for the past eight years, I’ve worked as a birth doula, supporting, educating and motivating pregnant mothers and their partners prenatally and through their births. These women, whose stories are unique, beautiful and oftentimes heart wrenching, have touched me deeply. One mother’s husband was serving in Afghanistan during her birth, and I - luckily! - was able to ensure he was “there” via Skype the moment his baby girl was born. Another mother had recently survived breast cancer and was told she would never get pregnant. She did, and we worked to help her achieve the happy and unmedicated birth she wanted - which gave her power and confidence to be a great mom to her new baby girl. Another mother I worked with had lost her first son because he arrived far too early, and she was very anxious about the birth of her second son. Supporting her through this birth was a highly emotional event, and yet this beautiful baby is a thriving, rambunctious, well-loved 4-year-old boy today.

If I had looked at these mothers one-dimensionally, I wouldn’t have been able to support them as thoroughly as I needed to, as they needed me to. It was vital that I learned as much as I could about their stories so that I could help them properly, and care for their families properly as well. I strove to make their environments as stress-free as possible, so that they could focus on their goals of healthy babies/healthy moms. As a nurse, I intend to take care of my future patients with the same love and dedication, the same attention to their whole story, and the same willingness to listen with a nonjudgmental ear. It is my intention to care, to listen, to soothe, to educate - and to care for myself as well so I can continue to serve. As Ardis, Mona, Bob and Angela showed us, to nurse others can be an overwhelming, emotionally-exhaustive calling, but one that they are utterly blessed to answer.

We are complex creatures, made up of stories of births and deaths and family and choices and luck and compromise and faith… and whichever way our stories have formed, whatever the roll of our “dice”, at the base of it we all want the very same thing – to love and be loved. “A Nurse I Am” is filled with love, dedication, and great wisdom, and I am grateful for the advise and inspiration of these nurses. Thank you!

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