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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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Lori Weikel

I was prepared for a busy day when I chose to take care of "John". He was a high functioning ninety year old male prior to a fall, which resulted in a hip fracture. He suffered complications due to anesthesia during surgery three weeks ago. When he was first admitted to the unit, he was in a coma state. By the time I took care of him, he was able to open his eyes, and spontaneously move his limbs.

Although he was non-verbal, he spoke volumes with his eyes. He would look at me each time I spoke to him and was listening intently. With the assistance of a technical partner, we proceeded to give John a full bed bath including washing his hair. With each touch, I tenderly told John what I was about to do in an effort to comfort and calm him. This type of care would fall under Benner's Helping Role domain, specifically "providing comfort and communication through touch". He seemed to enjoy having someone talk to him, and I whole-heartedly believe he was pleased.

As I administered his medications via a nasogastric tube, he did appear to become uneasy. Again, I spoke to him, and he would relax a bit. Throughout this process, I continually tried to reassure him that I would be as quick and gentle as possible. My main goal at this point was to make sure John felt safe and comfortable.

By early afternoon, John's girlfriend, "Mary" came to see him. She was very diligent in keeping up with his condition. I introduced myself and explained that I was a student nurse helping "Jane", his registered nurse for the day, take care of him. She looked at John and said "he looks so handsome today." She then proceeded to ask me about his most recent temperature. I told her and she took out a little notebook and recorded it for herself.

At this point, she began telling me that he fell at her house and she felt so guilty. She began to cry. I can apply the concept of "providing emotional and informational support to patient's families" under Benner's Helping Role. I took her hand in mine and put my other arm around her shoulder and suggested she look at John and talk to him. When she did, he opened his eyes and looked at her. Her entire face just lit up. In some way, this could fall under The Teaching-Coaching Function discussed by Benner. Jane came in to see Mary and asked her how she was doing. Mary responded by saying she was ok, but began to cry softly again. Jane gave her a hug and Mary immediately stopped crying. I think maybe she was also in need of some comforting.

I stayed with John when the physical therapist came to work with him. He sat on the edge of the bed and was moving his legs when prompted. Mary smiled at John and encouraged him the entire time. It was a huge improvement from the man I saw in the bed the week before, when a fellow student nurse was taking care of him.

Near the end of my shift, friends of John and Mary also came to visit. I spent some time talking with them, as well as to John. When I was preparing to say my goodbyes for the day, the friend took my hand and thanked me for taking such good care of John that day. Mary and the other friend agreed, and I was starting to tear up. I was not prepared to be that emotional. I said "it was my pleasure, and John was a great patient." I can truly say John and his family made a huge impact on me, and I sincerely hope I did for them, as well.