2014 Winning Essay

2014 A Nurse I Am Scholarship winners were asked to answer the following: Each of the nurses in the film A Nurse I Am was united in their complete care for the patients they served and went above and beyond the call of duty. As a nurse, you may be tempted to take shortcuts in patient care to meet demands and complete your workload - sometimes at the expense of patient-centered care. In light of the increased demands and workload that you may face as a nurse, how will you overcome the temptation to become goal-focused instead of patient-focused? What steps can you take as a student to help prevent this mentality and to view each patient as an individual worthy of your best work as a nurse?

Barbara Zalokar

Mount Carmel College of Nursing

Why does anyone enter the nursing profession? If one’s motivation to become a nurse is rooted in the desire to help another person achieve or maintain health, then his/her professional compass is well-directed, and he/she will be intrinsically guided to be patient-focused. However, after my first eight weeks at Mount Carmel College of Nursing, I observed that my classmates, self included, are indeed compassionate individuals, but are also goal-driven and highly competitive. These characteristics will serve us well to succeed in the rigorous 13-month Second Degree Bachelors of Science in Nursing program, but could also be factors that detract us from being patient-focused when we are practicing nurses. Balancing these two innate forces will be key in providing quality patient-centered care.

What distinguishes the nurse whose priority is to complete his/her workload within the shift hours from the nurse whose patients are his/her primary focus? The video A Nurse I Am provided some clues to this difference. Each of the featured nurses became 100% focused on the patient’s needs once they entered the room. The connection between the nurse and the patient was open and honest. The nurses were able to let other work distractions dissolve when they were interacting with their patients. They created atmospheres where patients felt comfortable opening up and provided information that was critical to pinpointing their health care strategy. Healthier outcomes are more likely to occur when a patient is honest with the health care provider and feels sincerely cared for.

Being a good nurse can be evaluated through different lenses. To be successful, one needs to be empathetic, technically proficient, communicative, observant, efficient and quick-thinking. There are several strategies I will use to enable me to provide the best care possible, while adhering to institutional expectations. Being a motivated student now will give me a solid, working understanding of the essential information a nurse needs. Thoroughly understanding body systems, wellness, pathologies and pharmacology will allow me to focus on communicating and observing the patient. Taking a few moments before entering a patient’s room can help eliminate distractions to patient care. Distractions can result in errors or poor quality of care, which ultimately could be detrimental to the patient’s well-being. They can also create extra tasks for the nurse. Being patient-focused and aware in the first place can avoid mistakes that could harm the patient or increase the nurse’s workload.

Interpersonal skills are essential for a nurse. As important as being able to communicate with patients is the ability to work well with other health care professionals. Eliminating opportunities for workplace disharmony will ensure that you can continue to work efficiently, and be patient-focused. Being humble and open to asking for help when you need it, as well as being willing to help your fellow nurses when they need it is an important reciprocity that improves the work environment. Confidence in your own knowledge of your patients and nursing protocols will enable you to approach a physician when you observe changes in your patient or you question a directive. Again, the intention of the nurse, if sincerely motivated by the well-being of the patient, will result in better and more efficient care for the patient.

Each patient has a unique history and story line. Once they enter a health care setting, it will be up to the nurse to listen and collect this history to form a picture of their health status. Acquiring this information can compete with the other important goals a nurse is responsible for. While accomplishing these goals are necessary, I believe the addressing the patient’s concerns and being present with them are key to being able to accomplish all goals in a timely manner. A nurse will be successful if he/she can balance the demands of the profession with the physical and emotional needs of the patient. If a nurse’s motivation to enter the field of nursing was a sincere desire to help others achieve or maintain health, then his/her career path will lead to improved patient care.

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