2009 Winning Essay
Glendale Community College
The Secret of Nursing Excellence
Bob Wilkinson was an example of a truly excellent nurse in the film, “A Nurse I Am.” What I appreciated the most about Bob in this film was his empathy for his patients, the way that he treated each individual with dignity, and his genuine desire to alleviate their illness. Bob was obviously not just putting in his hours. He sang to his patients, joked with them, cried for them, and told them stories. None of these things were in his job description. He did them just because he cared. Bob fought to make sure that what he did as a nurse was “right”. He held himself accountable to a high standard, taking care of his patients “as if they were his own children” and being humble enough to ask for help when he needed it. He was also a “team player.” Bob’s example is priceless.
Mona Counts was another shining star in the film. She had a no-nonsense demeanor, but a gentleness and care in the way that she interacted with her patients. One can tell by the questions she asked her patients that she really listened to them. She did not just ask medical questions; she got to know her patients as individuals – their upbringing, their family, and their education. She even sat and chatted with them about their concerns and life issues. She was boldly honest about her limitations, telling patients, “I have no idea what is wrong,” instead of pretending she was infallible. Yet she instilled confidence in them by the respect she gave to them, and by a listening ear. She, like Bob, was not content to limit her work to her job description; rather, she cared about real people who live in a context that she needed to understand in order to help them. Her caliber as a nurse practitioner was well stated at the end of the film: “her compassion, personal sacrifice, and service are an example” to her community.
These two exemplary nurses set the bar high for students such as myself, who are embarking on a nursing career. They taught me that a good nurse is not made by impeccable knowledge of hard skills and science alone. A good nurse is a nurse who cares, and who does not stop caring, even after many years of persistent stressors in their career. The nursing shortage certainly makes it challenging for nurses to genuinely care for patients because of the time constraints created by the nurse-to-patient ratio. I experienced this as a nurse assistant on a medical surgical unit. However, my professional experience and the testimony of this video is that patients are not as impacted by what you do for them as by how you do it.
As a registered nurse, I will meet the staffing challenges of the institution I work for with a solid work ethic and a compassionate spirit, by the grace of God. From ten years of living in Mongolia I developed an acute awareness of the immense human need in the world, and I gained a unique appreciation for people of all cultures. This is why I desire to pursue nursing – to care for people and help to meet their needs. Nurses are in a unique position to touch people’s lives and bring healing, not only physically, but also spiritually and emotionally. I believe that the primary way in which I as a nurse can overcome the challenge of understaffing is by genuinely caring for my patients. Practically, this can be done throughout each shift in the simplest ways. It does not take additional time to listen to patients tell you about their life while you bathe them or change a dressing. A smile and reassuring touch add to the quality of care without requiring time, and can do much to improve a patient’s wellbeing. Utilization of appropriate technology can also help save time with tasks (I plan to purchase an iPod Touch with nursing references), but at the end of the day, the patient measures the quality of care they are given by the degree of “personal touch”. I believe that nurses can be efficient at their job without being stressed or making their patients feel that they do not have time for them. It is by diligently maintaining these standards of care that I believe I will be able to sustain a lifetime of nursing excellence.