Overdue or over-egged? Beyond the Bedpan puts compassion tests to the test
You can’t see us, but Beyond the Bedpan is gazing lovingly at you as you read this. We’re plumping your pillows and gently brushing that stray hair from your face. We’ve made you a cup of tea and - can you smell that? It’s the scent of freshly cut flowers placed gently on your bedside in a vase we bought for you. What’s that? No, we’re not in love with you! We’re being compassionate obviously. Can’t you tell?
Well, if you supervise placements in Wales you’re going to have to get pretty good at knowing compassion when you see it.
The news this week that nursing students are to be tested on how compassionate they are seems to have, as usual, split opinion on nursingtimes.net. But at least you’re an articulate lot.
“This article makes me want to vomit,” says the first commenter, “but not as much as the apparent fascination with a concept that defies the laws of logic and common sense.”
And it seems that many of you agree that it won’t be easy to measure compassion. After all, as one reader adds: “A person might ACT compassionate but not BE compassionate - Dr Shipman was universally considered to be a very compassionate man. We now know he was not.”
But some people think that the idea is long overdue: “I am amazed that it’s taken management so long to take this vital subject seriously.”
Another adds “Anyone can administer treatment but to do it with compassion is the essence of nursing. Time pressures and stresses are ever increasing but remember each patient could be a member of your family and should be treated as a person not a disease.”
So how do you go about testing for compassion?
On placements, supervisors will be asked to rate students on a scale from one to seven on how they meet a range of standards, including: “Is always polite”, “Happy to accept constructive criticism” and “Shows a caring disposition towards others”.
But forget that, it sounds like a lot of work. Instead we’ve come up with the perfect one question test for nursing students.
How do you feel about your patients?
a) I wish they’d all leave me alone and stop pestering me. I’m busy, I want to chat to the nice doctor in the staff room and then nip out for a fag.
b) I want to give them the best care possible, ensuring that they are comfortable and have everything they need.
There, that should sort the wheat from the chaff.