The one requirement that should be in every school of nursing

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I’ve finally figured out what can change the face of nursing and the education of nurses. I think my idea can teach every nurse how to be more compassionate, how to be more organized, how to acquire empathetic reasoning and maybe, just maybe, teach nursing students how to actually “care” about their care.

I have to admit, it’s not an original idea–I stole it from my previous career as a certified athletic trainer. Many years ago, I was a student in the athletic training program and we were learning about therapeutic modalities. We learned the basics of hot and cold therapy that would serve as the building blocks for more advanced treatment techniques.

Learning about hot and cold therapy was boring, I won’t lie, but it taught us one very important lesson. Prior to accepting the responsibility of administering something as simple as ice or heat, we needed to know what it felt like. If we were going to tell our athletes that putting their ankle into a bucket of ice water was therapeutic, we had to know just what we were putting them through.

It gave us some great perspective on learning compassion. It’s pretty easy to “tell” someone to submerge their foot in an ice bath knowing that it’s ultimately going to help with their injury rehabilitation. It’s an entirely different ball game when it’s YOUR foot in that bucket of ice!!!

The term cold doesn’t even begin to describe that feeling.

The point I’m trying to make is that I think ALL nursing students should be put on the other side of the bedside. Instead of giving the care, they should be receiving the care. In order to truly understand and have genuine empathy for our patients, I believe we all need to become the patient (even if only for a brief period of time).

Whether it was by accident or not, I was a patient before I was a nurse. And any time I feel I’m losing my patience with my patients, I try to remember what it was like being one.

Wouldn’t that just shake things up a bit? What better way to learn some perspective?

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4 Responses to The one requirement that should be in every school of nursing

  1. Karenf54 RN

    Great point, Sean! It’s a very humbling experience being on the other side of the bed. I’ve been there many times in the past 20 years and i think it’s made me a much more caring & understanding nurse.
    There was something else I did when I started my nursing career. I went into Peds. straight out of school. I used to watch other nurses literally fighting to get kids to take their meds (mostly liquids) and I figured there must be a good reason they didn’t want to take them. I decided I would taste every med I had to give before attempting to give it to a child. I have to tell you this gave me much insight into why kids fight taking some meds. Some of them taste like absolute s**t. I learned that if I didn’t want to do battle every time a med was due, I would have to get creative & disguise the meds in something like pudding or applesauce. By knowing what the kids were going through & coming up with a solution, the job of giving the meds became much less stressful for the kids & myself.

  2. beliefnhope Caption Contest

    I couldn’t agree more! I have chronic pain issues, so when they teach you, “pain is whatever the patient says it is, where it is, etc” I truly understand that. I once had a doctor tell me there was no way I could be in the amount of pain I was claiming to be in. As awful as an experience that was, the irony of it was that I was not “seeking” pain medications…I was simply looking for an answer to why I was having the pain. Having health issues of my own, especially chronic pain issues, help me relate to what my patients are going through and make me a bit more open minded regarding their care needs. Thanks for sharing your story and may all nurses think about how they would want to be treated when caring for thier patients.

  3. Smithteamracing RN

    I have been an oncology RN for years and really don’t think you can teach compassion.

  4. angeltinks RN

    Our doctors in Australia have to be a ‘patient’ as part of their training, in a hospital where their ‘status’ is unknown. This gives them some insight into what it feels like to have a person standing at the end of their bed talking at them. It has improved bedside manners in our newer doctors.
    Having nursed for 26 years…its not hard to see an improvement when it occurs!