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The nurse’s art of genuine caring

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What’s it really like to be a nurse? The inspiring film “A Nurse I Am” answers that question by featuring four compassionate, caring nurse role models who are deeply committed to their patients and profession.

Every year, Cherokee Uniforms holds a scholarship program based on the film. Entrants are asked to write an essay in response to “A Nurse I Am,” and the 10 winners each receive a $2000 scholarship to put toward their nursing education. Here’s one of the winning essays.

The nurse’s art of genuine caring

How do you recognize genuine caring? What do you define as excellence? How does genuine caring and excellence improve patients’ satisfaction and safety?

What makes a nurse excellent is the capability to deal with the responses of the person during treatment, and not just dealing with the treatment itself. Caring is measured by the ability of seeing the fading smile behind a debilitating ailment, and the hope behind adversity. Caring is the ability to remember the person as a priority, and excellence is ability to leave our own personal problems at home and strive for the best during the client’s uncertainty.

The fact that after so many years of work, Bob Wilkinson, the pediatric oncology nurse, still cries after witnessing the struggle of the parents couldn’t be a bigger sign of compassion. The fact that there is only passion accumulated after so many won and lost battles is a sign of dedication. He did not take a salute or a simple conversation for granted. His conversations were not the product of rehearsals. He got to know his clients and he treated them with dignity because he took into consideration their likes and dislikes.

Through his actions he empowered his patients and promoted autonomy: He allowed the little girl in the video to push her own medication. He complained less and supported his clients more. His caring is also exemplified by his ability to remember the small details such as the preferred children’s toys.

The nurse’s ability to still be shocked by the sorrow of the families is a sign of a big heart. After so many years of experience, there is no thick skin but a bigger heart that provides warmth to those afflicted. And that is simply admirable. His empathy for his clients went beyond words when he shaved his head. All these qualities would not necessarily have improved the prognosis of his clients, but it proves that he is there for his clients. It proves that he is committed to support them, to assist them through their difficulties.

Mona Counts, the nurse practitioner is also another example of excellence and genuine caring. She never stood on a pedestal and looked down on her clients. Mona always sat on the floor, maintained eye contact with her patients. She always spoke in simple terms and maintained a sense of hope and honesty. She was no less of a nurse practitioner by engaging her clients in their own terms and conditions. She kept her ego outside her practice and despite her years of experience, she only seemed humbler.

She accommodated her clients’ wishes, and most importantly maintained their autonomy and independence. She educated her clients just so they can make their own wellness decisions. She always went the extra mile; by giving she received. Despite her long routine, despite her many years of experience, she remained passionate about her clients. She seemed to lack of a mirror. In fact, fanciness was thrown out of her equation, but she had a dozen of eyes observing her clients. She treated the person behind the disease. She filled and overflowed her patients’ expectations. Through her excellence, she made her clients feel safe.

I recognize that excellence is neither an absolute state nor it is a pedestal. To me excellence is something to strive for everyday when I research and investigate unknown topics to me. Excellence is when I recognize that what I lack of experience, I can compensate with passion to learn and help my clients.

Caring is to recognize that I won’t know everything and that together with my colleagues we provide better care. Caring to me is to understand that everything I do, I will do for the well being of my clients. My goal is to see beyond the obvious, and to support my clients’ decisions despite the challenges. I refuse to recite those empty lines that many nurses are forced to perform for their clients. As Bob, I do not take for granted introducing myself, and establishing a small but meaningful conversation that shows that I care and that I am there to keep my client safe.

By Julian Castaneda

Read more inspiring essays by the 2012 winners of A Nurse I Am Scholarship Program here.

Caption: Julian Castaneda–University of Massachusetts, Amherst School of Nursing

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