2009 Winning Essay

2009 A Nurse I Am Scholarship winners were asked to answer the following: In 750 words or less, pick two nurses in the film "A Nurse I Am" and tell how they take their jobs to the next level in order to impact the lives of their patients. In light of a nursing shortage that has the potential to affect staffing levels and the quality of care delivered, how will you rise to the challenge to meet the needs of your patients?

Ted Maurer

Davis and Elkins College

Healing Under Pressure

As I walk down the halls of the hospital, I look at the faces of the patients and realize that each of them has a unique need to heal. Whether from a physical problem or a psychological crisis, healing encompasses a process involving much more than the delivery of medication and procedures. It is process which includes our physical body, consciousness, and soul.

As a nursing student at a liberal arts college, I am constantly encouraged to think critically about everything. After watching the documentary “A Nurse I Am,” I can hardly avoid thinking critically about how nurses can impact the healing of mind, body, and spirit.

Mona Counts, a nurse practitioner in the film, made me realize that the ability to listen is an art. She takes her job to the next level by making a conscious effort to get to the core of the patient problem by finding deeper meaning behind what her patients are telling her. Mona inspires me by making me understand that if I want to be successful nurse, I must learn humility and willingness. Even with her level of knowledge and experience, she humbly admits that she is willing to learn when she doesn’t have the answers. Humility and willingness go hand in hand, they are virtues that can’t be separated. She impacts the lives of her patients by stressing the importance of finding information for them, and then presenting that information in a way that fosters lifestyle change and healing.

Bob Wilkinson, an oncology nurse in the film, shows a great deal of emotion when he speaks about being a nurse and what caring for patients means to him. He takes his job to the next level by displaying attention to patient’s concerns with a desire to know patients beyond their illness. He digs deep to find out who the patients truly are as people, and instills hope into the families of those in crisis. He excels as a nurse because of his ability to help people cope, preparing families and patients to move forward, and by fighting to reduce pain and suffering in the patient. In the film, Bob talked about how difficult it is to see the looks on the faces of the mother when the doctor notifies them that their child has been diagnosed with cancer. Parents seeing their child in this situation will aggressively ask “why” in regards to the suffering of their child. Bob, like Mona, admits with humility that sometimes he doesn’t have the answers. It is humility that nurses will need in order to take their job to the next level. Bob impacts the lives of his patients by showing that he is a nurse with the ability to attend to patients and families with empathy and diligence regardless of time constraints.

There is currently a nursing shortage that has the potential to affect staffing levels and the quality of care delivered. I realize that upon graduating and entering into direct patient care, I will be challenged to empower patients to maintain health of mind, body, and spirit. Regardless of time constraints, and staffing shortages, I will strive to give care with dignity and respect in an environment that is sensitive to each patient’s beliefs, values, and culture. I believe that people are the key to healing, therefore, I will meet the needs of my patients by advocating that all hospital staff, from the housekeepers, to the cooks, to the chief executives, work together to create a healing environment. I believe that how employees treat each other is directly related to the quality of care that the patient receives. This ‘community’ of caregivers will empower patients and families to be active participants in the wellness process.

Nurses have the unique privilege of helping others who have greater needs than themselves. It will be a complex and demanding challenge to meet these needs in the wake of the current nursing shortage. To be a nurse advocate, who hears, feels, and sees the needs of my patients will be the key to rising above the staffing difficulties. With humility, willingness, and refined listening skills, I can help create a work environment that fosters harmony and dedication among caregivers, enabling all patients to achieve healing of mind, body, and spirit.

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