Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Would you want to be cared for by a nurse like you?

  • 6 Comments

Would you like to be cared for by all the nurses and doctors who work in your organisation? That was the question posed by one of our speakers yesterday at the Nursing Times Team Leaders’ Congress – breast cancer surgeon Liz O’Riordan.  

She was diagnosed with breast cancer herself a couple of years ago, and she spoke candidly about her experience at our conference in Birmingham.

Being a patient in the same organisation that she worked made it difficult, she noted – colleagues don’t know how to treat you, or what they can and should ask – and all you really want is to be treated like any other patient.

“Say what you’d usually say, and do what you’d usually do. Don’t treat me as different. Because I am not. I want to be treated like a patient,” she told the audience of nurse leaders.

She said the best staff did exactly that. Told her to stop treating herself – and made sure she received their care and advice – and their support.

Her main point to our delegates – mainly lead nurses, matrons and ward sisters – was that it was the little things that matter.

“She told theatre staff they should wait five minutes, not gossip in front of the patient and only come in when the patient was fully anaesthetised”

She and the late Dr Kate Granger, who started the “hello my name is” campaign, were having chemotherapy at the same time and became friends, sharing their experience as professionals who were receiving treatment for cancer.

She agreed with Kate that introducing yourself to your patient was essential. “You’ve no idea how hard it is to be woken up in the middle of the night for your obs, without the nurse introducing herself,” she told the audience. “You just feel like an object.”

Meanwhile, in theatre, awaiting surgery before the anaesthetics kicked in, there were so many people “milling” about “gossiping”, she said.

You were aware of their conversations and that they weren’t focused on you or introducing who they were, said Liz. She told theatre staff they should wait five minutes, not gossip in front of the patient and only come in when the patient was fully anaesthetised.

She also said that she was told about the hundreds of side effects of chemotherapy – but not told how to cope with them.

She lost her hair but was not told how to draw eyebrows on with a pencil, or how to cope with the loss of libido following chemotherapy.

“Would you want to be cared for by every nurse and doctor in your organisation, but would you want to be cared for by a nurse like you?”

Liz embraced losing her hair and, instead of using a “rubbish” NHS wig, she enjoyed having a Turkish shave and temporary tattoos on her head. She said she wanted to share with others that they can approach their treatment as they wish to. As a fitness fanatic, she also wanted health professionals to recommend cancer patients should try to exercise to release endorphins and aid their recovery, she added.

As a result of her experience, she is now working on an app and a guide to help people navigate the world of cancer treatment – and how to cope practically with the side-effects.

She told the audience that she wanted to be treated like an ordinary patient – but it’s clear that she is anything but ordinary. She is both exceptional and inspirational.

But what she showed the audience was that nurses can and did make the biggest difference to the care she received. She gave the nurses attending our event yesterday a lot to think about, because of her unique insight.

So, the question maybe is not so much, would you want to be cared for by every nurse and doctor in your organisation, but would you want to be cared for by a nurse like you?

NT Leaders Congress 2017

Would you want to be cared for by a nurse like you?

Liz O’Riordan at NT Leaders Congress 2017

NT Leaders Congress 2017

Would you want to be cared for by a nurse like you?

Liz O’Riordan speaking to Nursing Times editor Jenni Middleton at NT Leaders Congress 2017

 

  • 6 Comments

Readers' comments (6)

  • I completely agree with Liz, as a patient under going breast surgery for Cancer the staff seemed to be in awe of me that not what I needed I was not there to treat myself but to be treated as a patient.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I would much rather be looked after by a nurse like me than the bunch of unfriendly miserable nursing staff at the hospital where I had a nephroureterectomy for cancer. Post op I was in considerable pain, with every movement a major effort involving time and increased pain. and one particular nurse was very unhelpful, expecting me to self care as if I was pre op agile.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Yes, empathy has flown out of the window. Why? Because nurses are too busy filling in reports and tick-box surveys to be on the spot where care AND SYMPATHY ARE needed

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Yasma Osman

    OMG how true the above comments are
    I agree with all said Yes I would like to be nursed by a nurse like me An SEN RGN BSc Nursing degree holder
    And do you know what has kept me in nursing is my first nursing registration SEN - true bedside nursing now known as NAP !!!
    But most of all is my compassion empathy and PASSION STILL AFTER 40 YEARS FOR MY PATIENTS AND THE PROFESSION I HONOR BUT WHO KNOWS FOR HOW LONG I WILL !!!
    WHY BECAUSE I CARE and listen and manage my patients needs as and when they require rather than checklist that are just ticked !!
    And I try not to say a minute when actually it could mean hours the patient is waiting !!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I was explaining to the pt about his diabetes drugs, one of them would be more beneficial to him if it was taken at breakfast time rather than evening as he was doing. He said " I am an Anaesthetist " i.e that I didn't need to explain but he was a pt and I was looking after him.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I too started my nursing career as a SEN and I loved it. The training was thorough and it taught me empathy at the young age of twenty. I was saddened when the training was abolished, but it did put me in good stead when I went on to train as an RMN. I would be happy to be cared for by a nurse like me.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.