One thought that hit my mind on the way to clinical’s on one particular morning, is that I get to work with not only the human body but the human soul. As tech’s, nurses or health care providers, there can be times when the patient loses the humanness they possess and in the eyes of the care taker (who is overwhelmed by the thought of caring for the 6 patients he/she’s been assigned and stares at a computer full of tasks and orders), the patient could be minimized to just the receiver of the tasks.
The typical day of a nurse does not allow for a 30 minute conversation with each and every one of his/her patients. I imagine as a new nurse, the day will not allow for more then just short interrupted
conversations words, in between handing out meds, hanging fluids, consulting the doc, doing trach care, or inserting an IV. The words exchanged between the new nurse and patient may not even make sense half the time, because the new nurse can’t be distracted with them, when he/she is trying to make sure all the ducks are in row, dodging her head back and forth between the computer screen and looking at the patient, and trying to appear as if she’s listening. At that moment the nurse may be making sure the right med was given (even after checking it 5 times), that the labs and vitals have been checked before administering the med, wondering when the doc will call, thinking about the patient next door who sounds like she might need suctioning, and thinking about the other patient who will need pain meds in 2 minutes, along with all the other thoughts that float around in the mind of the nurse. Did I mention that the lady next door needs the bed pan, NOW!?
This is one thing I fear, because I found myself going there a few times this semester, in an unexperienced frantic “I have to get everything done” kind of way. The human lying in the bed, became more of my task and project, and not because it was a burden or chore (because I love what I do), but because I became overwhelmed with all I had to get done for my patient’s and in the right time frame. The patient’s recovery and life depends on it, but I found myself forgetting about the patient in the bed and their humanness, and that they may need just a second of my listening ear or a touch on the arm, as a way to show that I really do care. I do care so much about the patients under my care.
It’s easy to forget that the patient is scared, worried, or maybe sad. The hospital is a very scary place for the patient, and sometime as healthcare providers we forget this because this place is like home to us. It’s as natural and comfortable of a place as the place we sleep and eat in at night. We, as nurses are overwhelmed too, but we can’t forget that this place is not as “homey” feeling to our patients as it is to us.
There is a balance between making sure that the patients in one’s care gets the best and most prompt care, but that they also get a little piece of the other things the nurse must give, in order to provide holistic care: comfort, human touch, and a listening ear. This a technique I want to master, and I technique that I saw some of the nurses on the unit had already mastered. So, I know it’s possible.
This is the art of nursing, juggling all the different faucets of care. It’s what makes nursing so complex; the fact that we not only perform tasks, critically think and saves lives, but that we get to care for the human soul, and maybe the souls of the worried people who surround the patient in the hospital bed. The people who surround the patient (spouses, family and friends), are often times even more scared then the patient, because they can’t imagine life without their loved one. They need our time, touch and emotional support too.
I don’t struggle with giving of myself or empathy….that has never been a problem for me. Perhaps, I’m too empathetic at times, at the expense of timely med pass or prompt attention to a critical lab (which I realize as a weakness of mine), but, I hope I can find a way to organize my day, so that I can provide holistic care to all of my patient’s. I’m passionate about all aspects of nursing support, and hope I can manage all the faucets. This brings me to the next question, will this be possible with the patient to nurse ratio?? That’s another frustration of mine and a discussion for later.