It’s easy to walk into a patient’s room and proclaim, “Good morning, Mr. Soty, it’s time to get you bathed, then out of bed and up for a walk.” Shift starts and there’s a to do list that could stretch 20 yards or more to complete. That doesn’t even include the ‘to-dos’ that pop up as the shift goes along.
Well, let’s see the doctor has ordered a whole new set of antibiotics for Ms. Donaldson and Mr. Higgs decided to pull his IV out. Or the patient in B Bed has a procedure you haven’t done in awhile so you need to brush up on the facility’s policy.
It’s hard and stressful because as a nurse, you want to get everything done. You hate to leave something at the end of the shift. Inevitably, the nurse has to pass something along. But, the fewer, the better.
All the tasks and the burden of trying to get everything done sometimes makes the nurse forget what’s most important: the patient. Not just knowing the patient but understand what the patient truly needs.
Sure, the patient wants a bath and to get up, but have they had a meal? Was it enough? Maybe there’s a morning show they like to watch as part of their morning routine.
What will make them happy at that particular point in time?
And there’s something else patients want. It took me years to learn this. They want to know the nurse caring for them. They want a connection. More, importantly, they want to know we care.
When a nurse walks into a patient’s room, they know everything about that person from home address right down to every procedure they’ve had over their entire life. And, yet, the patient knows nothing about the person telling them to take this medicine or get ready for this procedure.
It took me a long time to open up to my patients. It takes a long time for me to develop trust. When I did, I felt different about what I was doing. It had more meaning for me. I also found a way to make the grouchy patient no one wanted to care for smile.
I created a connection. If the patient had a military background, I told them about mine. If they were a football fan, I shared my favorite team. Or I made sure they knew how to tune into the next big game on their TV.
My connection with patients has taught me a lot about life and to look at the other side of the equation. Sometimes the answer you need is there.
And, yes, it makes me happy to know I’ve made a difference beyond instruments and medicine.
A connection on both sides helps makes the healing process go a lot quicker.