After the Earthquake

A Cedar Crest Nursing Alumna Blogs from Haiti

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Summer Exemplar

Nursing graduates share significant clinical experiences

"The following exemplars offer a peek into the moments of life as a nursing student that shape and help inform who they become as professional nurses. The exemplar writing assignment is to "describe a significant moment in practice where the student had an impact on the patient or the patient had an impact on the student." One of the prompts is to "write about a time when you knew you had become a nurse". These stories from practice describe pain and pain relief, fear and courage, despair and hope and the search for health that defines the journey of all nurses and patients. The faculty of the Cedar Crest College Nursing Department are so proud of our students and all that they do in the name of healing. We hope you enjoy their stories."
~Professor Amy Edgar

These are the stories written by the July 2013 nursing graduates.
*please note that the names of all patients have been changed for confidentiality.

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Aubrey Herrera

During clinical for my NUR 331 class I was blessed with the opportunity to assist a man that changed my view of nursing forever. While preparing for clinical the evening before on a medical-surgical unit, I was searching for two patients to provide care for the next day. While I was choosing patients, I was warned by the evening nurses not to choose the patient in bed ten because he was “challenging” and “very needy.” I did not choose the patient in bed ten not because of the nurses’ warnings but because I picked two patients that I thought would need more help on the day of care. The next day I arrived on the unit at 0630 to begin my day. I noticed a sign on bed ten’s door saying “Do not enter. Patient has a severe headache.” I continued on with the care of my two patients including giving medications and by 1100 I was finished with charting. Right when I was walking around looking for fellow students, nurses, and technical partners to assist, I noticed room ten’s call light blinking. I did not hesitate and I proceeded into his room, not knowing what I was going to get myself into.

To this day I am grateful I entered this patient’s room. All the man wanted was to be bathed and somebody to talk to. He was depressed about his stay and the fact that his wife does not want to engage in sexual activities with him anymore because of his condition. I left his room after introducing myself and turning out the call light and gathering the supplies I needed. While I cannot remember the specific diagnosis of the patient, I do remember that he had Raynaud’s Phenomenon and had great difficulty providing care for himself. I proceeded with the bed bath as he talked at length throughout while I listened. I also changed his linens, gave him a new gown, and even warmed up his feet by massaging them with a warm washcloth. When I was done bathing him I repositioned him back in bed facing the windows and opened the blinds. The patient was so grateful that I took the time to help him. He told me that nobody at this facility offered him this kind of care. He then asked if I would pray with him. I am not a religious person but I obliged. He held my hand as we prayed and it was a precious moment.

After our prayer, the patient asked me to irrigate his suprapubic catheter. Since I have never done this procedure before I had to ask my clinical professor to assist me. My professor walked me through the procedure and was delighted that I took an extra assignment that allowed me to learn a new skill. If I had never answered that call light, I would have not have developed a relationship with this vulnerable patient nor learned a new skill.

According to Benner (1984), the helping role domain includes providing support, comfort and communication through the use of touch. Consistent with Benner’s theory is how nurses utilize the gift of touch to convey communication and offer support to patients who are withdrawn and depressed (Benner, 1984). At first this patient was withdrawn but after offering to listen and provide a bath, he was able to open up which made him feel better.

What I learned through this experience was that I should not listen to what others say and that even though this particular patient was not my patient assignment for the day, in a working environment on a unit, everyone needs to work together and help each other. I do not think that the technical partners or nurses were ignoring this patient but instead they were busy and by me providing care, it eased their workload. And even though I am not religious, I did not mind praying with him and hearing him say “God bless you” meant something to me. Two strangers can form a connection and doing good deeds, even as simple as a bed bath and listening, can have a positive outcome for both the patient and the nurse. In this particular situation, listening and touch provided supportive care and communication more than engaging in discussion.