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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 Lindsay Harrison

I had the opportunity to travel to Belize to participate in a medical mission’s trip with faculty and students of the nursing department. I never imagined that the trip would have such an impact on my future career as a nurse. We established clinics in a few of the local towns, and families came from all over to receive medical treatment. There was one particular little boy and his sister that helped to create the nurse that I am.

This brother and sisters’ family came into the clinic with many symptoms. The mother and father were experiencing symptoms that appeared to be a sexually transmitted infection and two of the three children had a persistent cough, sore throat, and runny nose. The middle son, Javier, was experiencing the worst symptoms. The oldest daughter, Carmelita, was the only member of the family that spoke English because of her formal education. As a result, it was difficult to gain an accurate history and assess the family.

Two students worked to evaluate the mother and father, while myself and another nursing student began to assess the children. As I approached with a thermometer, explaining what I was going to do, Javier began to cry hysterically. I immediately stopped and began to panic. I had not yet had Pediatrics, and although I interact very well with children, I had never experienced a child cry at my approach. I knew that I needed to establish why he was crying and calm him down. I looked at Carmelita and asked what was wrong. His sister explained to me in English that he was afraid of doctors and thought that I was going to give him a shot. I quickly put the thermometer down and kneeled down on the dirt floor in front of him. I looked at Carmelita, “Tell him that I will not hurt him, it’s not a shot. I need to put this in his mouth to take his temperature.”

She spoke to him in Spanish and he continued to cry. I touched his hand and said, in broken Spanish, “It will not hurt.” I turned to Carmelita and said, “Let’s have your big sister try. She will be brave and show you that it does not hurt.” Carmelita opened her mouth and I placed the thermometer under her tongue. Javier stared at her, with a bewildered look in his eye, yet intrigued that she was able to keep this strange thing in her mouth without it hurting. After she was done, I asked, “Did it hurt?” She shook her head and said to her brother, “Now you try!” He slowly opened his mouth and I placed the thermometer under his tongue. I told him he had to help me to hold it because it was very important that he not>let it fall out of his mouth. He held it bravely, and when the thermometer beeped, he handed it to me. “Great job! You did that so well, and you were so brave,” I praised him.

He smiled a huge smile. I pulled out my stethoscope and told him that we were going to listen to Carmelita’s heart. I listened first and asked if he wanted to hear it. He shook his head yes, and I placed the stethoscope in his ears. His eyes lit up with excitement when I asked, “Can you hear it go bump-bump?” He then listened to my heart and listened to his own before letting me complete my assessment all the while joking and laughing with them.

This experience was important to me for many reasons. First, I’ve always wanted to work in pediatrics, and I felt that this was partial confirmation that I was meant to work with kids. I also experienced several of Benner’s (2001) key domains of nursing. The first domain, The Helping Role, has several competencies, one of which I felt that I achieved. I provided “Comfort and Communication Through Touch;” I kneeled to his eye level and touched his hand to show that I would not hurt him. I also believe that I achieved a competency from the second domain, The Teaching-Coaching Function. This particular competency, “Providing an Interpretation of the Patient’s Condition and Giving a Rationale for Procedures,” was achieved when I described and demonstrated what I was going to do. As a whole I began to achieve Benner’s (2001) last domain, “Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing Practice.” I was blessed with an amazing medical missions experience, to care for people that were way beyond my comfort zone. I began to feel like a real nurse and came back confident that I have made the right career choice.