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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Tonya Widenor

Nurses play an important role in the healing of all patients. The care that nurses provide to their patients can make a huge difference in their recovery. Nurses who provide the utmost care to their ability and provide it using compassion and trust, allow the patient to have the best experience while in the hospital.

I had the opportunity to provide care to an 86 year old female on a medical surgical floor. She had started palliative chemotherapy, for lung cancer, a week prior to her stay in the hospital. The chemotherapy had caused considerable nausea and prevented her from eating or taking anything by mouth. She also had decreased strength in her right arm and hand which was making it difficult for her to do her daily tasks she normally was able to complete independently. While at home she discovered that she was having difficulty walking and was starting to become very unstable on her feet.

She was admitted on the medical surgical unit in order to figure out what was causing the gait instability. She received a Computerized Tomography (CT) scan of the head during this hospital stay, showing many new lesions in the brain, which was the cause of her gait instability.

On the day I was taking care of this patient she was in a depressed state and was ready to give up. She was also on contact precautions for shingles so she was in a special room away from everyone else. She was secluded from hearing other people and felt very lonely. I walked into her room and introduced myself and told her I was going to take care of her today. She was very cooperative but remained very down. I helped her order her breakfast and told her I would be back to help her with her bath. She did not eat much from her breakfast, she “just was not hungry.”

My plan for her on this day was to pamper her and spend time talking with her. I wanted to make her comfortable and fresh. After I helped her to the bathroom and saw how weak she really was, I knew I had to assist her in bathing. I got a warm basin of water and bathed her. She sat on the end of the bed and I washed her back. She stayed very quiet but I knew she was enjoying it as she became very relaxed. I washed her legs and massaged them at the same time then she washed her face. I assisted her with brushing her teeth and her hair and put on a fresh gown. Her skin was very dry so I asked her if I could put cream on her skin. She said she would love that. I put it on her back first and gently massaged it. She had shingles in some places on her back and under her breast so these areas were painful. I then put cream on her legs. She was then very exhausted so she lay back down in bed and ordered lunch.

She was so grateful that I was there on this day and she told me that I made her feel important. She does not have much family left other than her daughter, so for most days she feels lonely. She had told me that for the first time while she was in the hospital someone took the time to truly care for her. She loved that I had the time to help wash and pamper her. When I left for the day I went to say goodbye and she took my hand and kissed it. She said she would miss me and thanked me several times for spending the time with her. This gave me the feeling of knowing that I truly made a difference for her even if it was only for one day.

In the book From Novice to Expert there are many domains discussed, with The Helping Role domain playing a huge part in the care of this patient. In providing the patient with a bath and applying cream to her skin is a perfect example of “Providing Comfort Measures and Preserving Personhood in the Face of Pain and Extreme Breakdown” and “Presencing: Being with a Patient.” In taking the time to talk and listen to this patient and just sit with her made the patient really feel so important and cared for. My interaction with this patient also allowed me to “Provide Comfort and Communication Through Touch.” She had thoroughly enjoyed my touch and massage as this allowed her to relax and feel really good.