2015 Winning Essay

The 2015 A Nurse I Am Scholarship winners were asked to address the following: Patients and their family members base their perceptions of the care received on their personal experience with the medical personnel they interact with. After viewing the film "A Nurse I Am":
(1) Describe how the nurses in the film build a positive rapport with patients and their family members; and
(2) How will you ensure that you provide those you care for with a positive healthcare experience?

Dimitry Shevorski

Texas State University

Each of the nurses portrayed in the film faces different challenges, but all of them show compassion and a strong desire to help their patients, regarded not just through the prism of their physical ills, but also their human suffering, their fears and hopes. Once a relationship of trust is established between a patient and a nurse, that nurse carries on a responsibility beyond the performance of job duties: a commitment to a patient's wellbeing as a whole, fulfilled through offering comfort, answering questions, communicating with their family and attending to their needs before they even arise.

I saw all that, and more, in Mona, a nurse practitioner featured in the film, from a small low-income town. She works double the hours expected of the professional in her field, single-handedly caring for several thousands of people, many of which have no health insurance. Being the only health care provider in her remote town, despite the shortage of time and staff, despite her own tiredness, Mona still takes her time to get to know her patients, to understand their concerns and help whenever possible. There was a sweet and touching scene when she managed to soothe her patient's worry about acquiring Alzheimer's disease - his persistent fear after the death of his friend from that illness.

The movie also highlighted many touching moments with Bob, a male nurse in pediatric oncology ward, interacting with his little patients. It didn't look easy: his questions were often left without answers, and his encouragement frequently got no response from the ill child. Yet, Bob kept trying to put a smile on a kid's face, understanding the difficulty of staying positive through exhaustion, pain and loss of hope in the face of cancer. It is his personal mission to be a source of comfort for his patients, somewhat of a “father figure”, as he himself explains. His face lit up each time he succeeded in bringing a kid's attention away from the illness for a minute, away from the unfair reality of the ward. One can immediately see how devoted Bob is to making the experience of his little patients as pleasant as possible, while making every effort to ease the burden for their parents, going an extra mile in his nursing duties and encouraging families through the hard times.

Having already had some experience working at a brain trauma rehabilitation center as a Certified Nursing Aide, I saw first-hand what a big difference a nurturing relationship with nurses and staff makes in a patient's attitude and overall progress. Along with my duties as a CNA I continuously worked on helping to improve the quality of life for my patients, asking my peers and more experienced staff for guidance, and, most of all, listening to my patients, truly paying attention to their wishes and concerns. People who experienced trauma may feel helplessness and discouragement, even frustration and anger. It is a task of every nurse to never take it personally, but rather to find ways to involve the patient, sincerely taking interest in them, and moving their focus away from negative thinking.

I have truly enjoyed getting to know many of my patients at the rehabilitation center. Many of traumatic brain injury patients are rather isolated from their usual environment and no longer able to participate in many of their favorite activities, which gives way to depressive moods and withdrawal. Given that, making a human connection with a patient becomes as important and needed in the course of the treatment as any other nursing care procedures or medication.

It was truly rewarding to be voted an “Employee of the season” by the rehabilitation center patients in my first year as a CNA, and it inspired me to explore the healthcare field further, eventually entering a Nursing program at St. David's School of Nursing at Texas State University. I was pleased to see that much of the curriculum gave special attention to nursing ethics and caring for patient's emotional well-being. Much like Mona, one of the nurses in the film “A Nurse I Am”, I hope to become a nurse practitioner with time. And, just like her, positive and supportive patient experience will be my priority, since for me it is more than a demanding and honorable job. It is a way to bring the support and attention where it is most needed.

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