2014 Winning Essay
Mesa Community College
Keeping the focus on the patient begins with asking why nursing was chosen as a profession. Nursing must be a calling to assist others and relieve suffering. While it does offer diverse opportunities for lucrative careers, if you do not love people, it will develop into a task oriented job with a narrow focus on efficiency and return on investment. The nurses in A Nurse I Am spend time, effort and energy getting to know and understand their patients. They do not view them simply as a diagnosis or condition to be treated, but rather as a whole person. This is a key component of patient-centered care and avoidance of shortcuts that detract from that care. These nurses make an emotional investment in their patients. They direct questions to their patients and the patient’s physicians, but they also ask questions of themselves, questions like “If this was my parent, spouse, child or self how would I want to be treated; and how can I make this better?” Nurses and student nurses must understand that patient-centered care requires not only rigorous training, testing and licensing but also the proper motivation. It requires true empathy and humility.
The avoidance of shortcuts that shift the focus away from the patient and rather to the completion of tasks also requires nurses to be brave and honest advocates for their patients and their profession. Cost controls are an important component of the long term success of any health care system, but must be balanced with truly helping patients heal. The nurse has to be efficient with time and other resources but they must also demand a seat at the table when decisions are being made about staffing levels. They must provide credible first-hand-knowledge based input and feedback. Nurses must empower themselves and peers to speak up when they are simply being asked to do too much. This is not trouble making or some irrelevant power struggle; rather it is about keeping the patient and the nurse safe. This advocacy must be based in humility and what is best for patients. Nurses must have the necessary resources to help patients attain health. Like sterile gloves or non-expired medication, time is a resource that nurses must advocate for in the interest of their patients.
Finally, nurses must always take care of themselves and have realistic expectations about their physical and mental capabilities. There may be significant financial gain for a nurse to work longer and more shifts but is this patient centered? I believe a healthy and well rested nurse is less likely to be susceptible to shortcuts that detract from patient centered care. A financial sacrifice may be realized by the nurse who does not work the extra hours, but we must look again at our motivations to be a nurse; it is not about us, it is about the patient. Nurses must have faith that a better outcome will be attained by the patient and that in the long run, these sacrifices pay off by a clear conscious and longer career.
I will focus on my patients by always putting myself in their shoes. Having undergone chemotherapy, radiation and testing for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, as well as numerous less serious interactions with the healthcare system, I am able to empathize with the fears and concerns of my patients. I will get to know my patients and their needs. Additionally, I will always examine my motivations for nursing roles that I pursue. I will make balanced employment decisions that allow for patient-centered care with fair compensation. I choose to live simply and believe this will empower me to find the right fit for me as a nurse. I will encourage my fellow nurses to do the same.