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?

Grace Sroka

Northeastern University

Nursing is a profession made up of multiple components. First and foremost, nurses are health care providers. We are also a hand to hold, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and so much more. The short version of "A Nurse I Am" speaks to the key point that we must get to know our patients. This is the only way a nurse will ever be able to provide exceptional care, as the nurses in the video have. But, the importance of getting to know patients is what it leads to, and that is trust. If a patient does not trust his/her nurse, then that person has failed as a nurse. One of the nurses, Angela Bytheway, had a patient who needed physical therapy. It is easy to tell our patients what they need and send them away. She went out of her way, however, to talk to insurance companies and write letters of medical necessity to make sure this patient actually got the physical therapy he needed. This helped to build that trust in her as a nurse and also showed the patient and his family that physical therapy was an important necessity to his recovery and something they needed to put the time into. When Angela went the extra mile to get him that physical therapy, they saw she believed it would be beneficial and, because they trusted her, it helped them believe it too.

We need our patients to trust us and we also need to let ourselves have an emotional connection with our patients and families. Bob Wilkinson showed me this in the full version of "A Nurse I Am". He speaks about giving his patients love and touch and that his patients see him as a grandparent or father. While patients need this connection, nurses do as well. My personal experiences included trying to keep myself emotionally detached from the pediatric cardiovascular patients I worked with because it made me very upset that they were dealing with such severe illnesses. I learned, however, that it is impossible to give patients the best care if not emotionally involved. A nurse needs to treat all patients as if they are his/her own family and Bob shows in this video that it is okay to go home and cry for one’s patients. Even though we put aside our feelings during work, we are still emotionally involved with our patients and cry or pray for our patients when we go home. This is what keeps nurses human and able to build that trust with their patients. The patients can see that we care and, as Ardis Bush said, “we do not want patients to feel we are being judgmental about their pain”. As nurses we cannot judge our patients. Even though we have opinions, nurses never let their patients know those opinions. If patients feel they are being judged, they will never trust that nurse and as I mentioned, trust is the most important aspect of nursing care.

Lastly, I enjoyed the focus on teaching and preparing the young generation of incoming nurses. The textbooks and classroom setting could never fully teach someone to be a nurse so it is important to practice scenarios on people when it is okay to make mistakes. No one nurse is perfect; we all make mistakes, but it is how we handle those mistakes and learn from them that make us the top health care providers we are. It is that first moment when you walk into a patient’s room and introduce yourself when you realize how big of an impact you can make on someone’s life. I will never try to stay emotionally detached from a patient and their family again after seeing what Bob Wilkinson does every day. His emotional connection can mean everything to a patient. I have realized that it is a necessary part of nursing care. In my practice, my aim will always be to gain my patients’ trust. I want all of my patients to feel that I have their best interest at heart. Staying emotionally involved so patients know I care about them and their family will be the major change I make in my nursing care. To end with the quote that wonderfully summarizes nursing care, "If you treat a person the way that they act, they will be less than what they can be, but if you treat a person as if they are better, they'll become the best they can be".

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