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'Stop, listen and learn when it comes to older patients'


Lauren Piercy, a mental health student nurse, presents a poem about patient engagement, honesty and what it is like to be a student nurse entering a conversation when confidence is low.

Sometimes students have more time than others in the nursing profession to spend with patients - to really listen to them. And we should grasp every opportunity given to us to do just this.

You find out things about people, their history, their background when you are invited to listen, and this can completely change a way in which someone feels.

It can, in turn, even aid their recovery.

During my three years as a student nurse I have embraced these opportunities, and here I reflect on my experiences as a first-year.

Withered Old Face

I look at this man with his withered old face,

and try desperately hard to put myself in his place.

I gaze at his eyes and know something is wrong,

but he tells me to leave as his story’s too long.

“I have time” I tell him, when really it’s tight.

Yet I know in my heart, this feeling - it’s right!

I lower myself, give his frail hand a squeeze

and from his lips, his worries I tease.

Worries of life and all of his fears,

and exactly what’s bothered him over the years.

These worries are founded, yet catch me off-guard,

not what I expected and hit me quite hard.

“I lost both of my children and my beautiful wife,

I’ve been left all alone to suffer this life”.

“My heart it’s not working, no matter the meds,

it is broken in two, it’s just like my head.”

I scramble for words but they all seem so forced,

I’m only a student - is this part of the course?

I tell him “I’m new” and “really quite shy”

Not sure how to help, but I’ll give it a try.

I ask where he married and was it a beautiful day?

He smiles, reminiscing,

“Here in town, ‘46, the 15th of May”.

“My family brought joy beyond all compare,

first words, first steps - for each I was there”.

His face it lights up as if worries subside,

and I’m enchanted by stories of his wondrous life.

He thanks me for listening and taking the time.

“No, thank you” I reply, “the pleasure was mine”.

Somehow I had managed to gap all of those years,

and feelings of uncertainty finally clears.

A bond is established, a trust I have gained

A lesson for work and for life will remain. 

Just be yourself, open up and be true.

When you are truthful with people they are truthful with you.


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