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?

Karla Yeh

University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing

Many gems of advice circulate within my mind as an aspiring nurse, but none resonated as strongly as the guidance offered by the four recipients of the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award who shared their perspectives in the film, A Nurse I Am. The overarching message of the film conveyed the importance of investing time in patients. This message emphasizes the need to patiently and sincerely treat patients and their families without judgment, prejudice or contempt. Instead, the nurses highlighted in both videos met each of their patients with unrelenting compassion, providing treatment and healthcare in a way that convinced me I was watching friends reuniting instead of witnessing the classic nurse-client divide too often deemed insincere and distant by those who matter most – patients and their families. The nurses spotlighted in A Nurse I Am expertly built positive rapports with each of their clients in very important ways, proving to nurses and patients alike that taking the time to deliver care with compassion ensures a positive healthcare experience.

The nurses in the film dedicated their time to their patients. During each patient visit, whether it was in the hospital or at their home, the nurses gave their undivided attention and unhurried time to answer questions, discuss progress, and even listen to music. Nurse Ardis Bush was welcomed into her patient’s home as a friend and confidant. She completed her check-up, and furthered her relationship with her patient by talking about other things in life, allowing the patient to escape her condition and enjoy piano by her son with a friend. Following Nurse Mona Counts on her home visits also proved that spending time with patients is invaluable, and differentiates a positive rapport from a negative one. Nurse Counts’ positive rapport with patients revolved around gentle and friendly tones, lack of judgment for unhealthy habits and positioning herself close to her patients while speaking. Nurse Angela Bytheway pledged to stand by her patients and advocate for their needs, especially after they are discharged from the hospital. She spends the time required to fulfill medical orders, arrange insurance, and stand by her patients whenever necessary. Nurse Bob Wilkinson spent his time at each patient’s bedside to make sure they felt comfortable with him and their surroundings. He respected his patient’s feelings and space by asking, “Are you OK?” and “Can I sit down?” Additionally, Nurse Wilkinson took time to provide one of his patients with prizes, and sent him home with a smile on his face while showing off his new toys. In each of these visits, the nurses widened the scope of treatment beyond the diagnosis and provided care to the whole person. I was delighted to discover the personal side of their patients by joining the nurses on their home visits and watching them build a positive rapport with their patients in a variety of settings.

One of my greatest joys in training to become a nurse is interacting with patients and their families. Bringing a smile into my patients’ rooms is natural for me. In this way, I connect closely to my patients, and break down any barrier that prevents them from relating to me as their advocate, confidant and caregiver. As a nursing student, I am constantly learning about the various needs of different patients, and the most effective manners of communication. I practice culturally-sensitive and age-appropriate communication and care during clinical and volunteering sessions. With effective communication comes effective listening, and I always allow my patients to give their side of the story while looking into my eyes and, when they prefer, holding my hand. Furthermore, I am always present at my patients’ bedside ensuring their safety and advocacy while being seen by other healthcare providers. But beyond the skills taught during school, my patients know they can rely on me for a positive healthcare experience because I dedicate my work and time to the conscious choice I made to become a nurse. Like Nurse Bush, I expect to do the very best I can at my choice to deliver quality care while providing a positive experience for all of my patients. As the film mentioned, I pledge to be a “student for life” and am prepared to learn throughout my nursing career from my work, my colleagues, and most of all, my patients. I’m grateful for films such as A Nurse I Am for inspiring me to act beyond the call of duty and make a positive impact on my patients and their healthcare experiences.

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