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Nurse and Patient

Nursing graduates share significant clinical experiences

The May 2013 Nursing graduates were instructed by their professors to write about a significant moment during their clinical rotations this past academic year. What came from that assignment is a compilation of touching moments between a nurse and his or her patient that give a glimpse into the compassion and devotion nurses provide their patients every day.

Professor Joan Timalonis writes, “these exemplar stories are a testimony to this courageous and healing spirit of Nursing. They reveal the calming presence you provided to families and their loved ones.”

These are the stories written by the May 2013 nursing graduates.

*please note that the names of all patients have been changed for confidentiality.

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by Ashley Jennings

Therapeutic communication—one of the many traits demonstrated in the nursing profession that helps to promote an essential nurse-patient relationship. Through the use of empathy, compassion, and dedication, a strong bond has the potential to be formed which enables a nurse to provide more effective and meaningful care to his or her patient.
Personal experience of this specific attribute presented itself with much significance during my first day of my first medical-surgical clinical in one of the surrounding hospitals located in the Lehigh Valley area. Coming on to the unit, there was never a point in time where anxiety was not accompanying me every step of the way. The one crucial element of that day which helped to ease my nerves was the qualities of my very first patient. He was a male in his late sixties diagnosed with end stage renal disease secondary to a gastric surgery he had undergone several years prior. Complications arose from this surgery which resulted in compromised renal function, forcing him to receive dialysis on a weekly basis. During this experience, I was able to actually sit down with my patient for close to an hour and really explore in depth his perspectives on life and his illness utilizing therapeutic communication. Although his diagnosis offered a limited timeframe, he refused to let it dictate what he could or could not do. We conversed about how we both agreed that everything happens for a reason; situations individuals encounter may not seem fair at the moment but if too much time is wasted focusing on the negative aspects, one’s life is vulnerable to go in that direction.

Spending time with this patient had a profound impact on me as I felt that we connected on a spiritual basis and ultimately served as reassurance that this was the profession for me. Throughout the conversation, I was able to understand his interpretation of renal disease and empathize with his circumstance which is important when providing patient care as it offers different insights regarding appropriate interventions and ways to communicate (Benner, 2001). He merely looked at his diagnosis as another obstacle in life. What impacted me the most was his humble attitude towards the health challenges he was facing and the events that led up to this terminal stage. No one ever asks to be diagnosed with a life altering illness but the idea that he sustained an unexpected injury during surgery that caused significant health deteriorations and still remained optimistic was inspiring. According to Benner (2001), nurses are seen as an outlet to facilitate a means of effective communication and essentially function naturally in a helping role. This experience has offered insight into the meaning of offering help to a patient without him or her requesting it; by simply presencing, offering time, and listening to concerns are what patients remember when they leave the hospital. The patient I was caring for never once asked for help or a moment to talk but when we had our conversation he was very thankful of my initiative. The simple actions in the nursing profession often make the biggest impact on a patient; without hesitation, this experience revealed to me early on in my nursing career this could not be any more accurate. Not only did this patient help to reinforce the important qualities in life but also to remain humble and optimistic because life goes and there is no benefit of placing every ounce of energy into negativity. Now at the end of my student nursing career, I can look back and really appreciate the meaning behind my interaction with this patient as everything happens for a reason.