I realise that there is more to nursing than this, but these are the three topics I had chosen to examine from a Legal, Ethical and Professional point of view and my stance had been that trust was the most important of these qualities.
However, a trip to the Doctors led to a referral and me experiencing life as a patient. I believe that I am trustworthy, compassionate and able to communicate; I believe that these qualities help me in my journey to become a qualified nurse.
My experience as a patient has taught me that not all nurses have these skills.I was fully aware of what would happen to me when I went for my referral appointment, I was perhaps a bit more knowledgeable than the average person due to my training, this did not stop me feeling anxious.
The day of my appointment I had to be nil by mouth. I tend to continuously drink water throughout the day, I had not realised how hard it is going without a drink for 6 hours. I suddenly found myself being able to empathise with those patients I had met during my 8 week gastroenterology placement. When it came my turn to be booked in, I was expecting an experience similar to that from my Gastro placement. I hoped to meet a nice, friendly nurse who would talk me through everything, calm my nerves, answer my questions and generally put me at ease. Instead I got Grumpy Nurse.
“Grumpy Nurse did not tell me her name, she did not smile at me, and she made no attempt to relax me or calm me”
Grumpy Nurse did not tell me her name, she did not smile at me, and she made no attempt to relax me or calm me. She manhandled me into a machine to take my blood pressure; she took a pinprick sample of blood. She briskly went through my medical history without really listening to my replies. I found myself hoping fervently that this nurse would not be participating in my treatment. Then she told me something that I disagreed with, so I argued with her. Even though I knew I was right, I found myself acquiescing to her because she was in a uniform, because I was nervous and because I just wanted to get away from her. I wondered how many other patients had done the same. I was then sent to another waiting room, the sitting around waiting made me more nervous.
My name was called and thankfully, it was called by Nice Nurse. Nice Nurse smiled at m,e which instantly relaxed me. She told me her name and then led me into a small changing room. Nice Nurse went through my details again, she calmed me and told me she would be in the treatment room with me. I cannot explain the relief I felt knowing that someone who was able to communicate with me would be there to hold my hand. I then had to get changed into the obligatory nightgown and wait for someone to come and get me. Never before had I realised how vulnerable you feel when you are not in your own clothes, the alien feel of the hospital apparel and the coldness of the changing room started to make my nerves increase tenfold.
Then Happy Nurse came to take me through to the treatment room. Happy Nurse was great, I liked her on sight. Happy Nurse also told me her name, made me laugh and introduced me to the Doctor. Happy Nurse and the Doctor talked me through what would happen while Nice Nurse held my hand. These 2 nurses showed me compassion, I was happy to put myself in their hands and trust them to care for me.
I appreciated that Happy Nurse communicated with me and took the trouble to establish that I understood everything and was happy to proceed. In recovery I met Super Nurse. There were five of us in recovery, Super Nurse managed not to panic when two patients simultaneously fainted and started throwing up at the same time. Super Nurse took it all in her stride and dealt with it all superbly. Super Nurse also smiled, told me her name when I was more aware and offered me a drink. In fact, she ended up making me three cups of coffee, for which I am eternally grateful. Super Nurse came and sat with me and went through everything concerning my discharge and aftercare. She was extremely thorough. I found myself admiring her knowledge and her ability to explain things in layman terms.
The whole experience has left me hoping I emulate the traits of Super, Happy and Nice Nurse. I would be horrified to discover that I have ever been Grumpy Nurse. I acknowledge that everyone has bad days, but a basic nicety of Nursing is to tell a patient your name. Being a Nurse means being in a position of trust.
Patients, whether they be in hospital voluntary or involuntary are forced to trust you and expect you to be competent at your job. I found myself doubting the ability of Grumpy Nurse purely due to the way she treated me. She could have been a world expert, but her communication skills left me doubting her competence and unwilling to trust my care to her.
Being a patient has taught me valuable lessons in empathy. I understand the vulnerability in the simple act of relinquishing your clothes to put on a hospital gown. I can write my essay with renewed understanding.
Communication, compassion and trust are vital elements of nursing, but the ability to communicate is perhaps the most important.