The BEST way to train nurses

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What do you think is the best way to train nurses to be the very best caregiver? Have them be the patient.

I learned a very valuable lesson this week. Everyone that works in health care doesn’t know jack about being a patient, until they are one. If we did, we’d take better care of everyone. We really would.

I was on the other side of the ‘bedside’ this week. It was nothing emergent or life-threatening. But yet it still was important to me and my family.

We nurses (I only use nurses since that’s what I am) tend to trivialize and even minimize what the patient and their families are experiencing, regardless of what that may be at any given time. I think we do this subconsciously or subliminally or maybe even reflexively because it’s something we ‘deal’ with every day we (as nurses) come to work. Dare I say aspects of our job become repetitive in nature (to a varying degree)?

Being on the receiving end of that clockwork care sprung my eyes wide open. I realized how much I have failed my patients in recent months.

Something that seems so trivial and minimal for me can a be very big deal and could quite possibly be a life-altering event for someone else (our patients).

Yes, I’m being vague. It’s intentional.

Take for instance something as ‘repetitive’ as dressing changes. For us, we almost go on autopilot about all the varying aspects of a proper dressing change. Everything from the type of tape, type of gauze or drainage pad, the integrity of the skin, the healing process of the skin, the condition inside the wound, around the wound and outside the wound. The important aspects of wet versus dry. Proper cleaning techniques. Knowing when to dab, knowing when to wipe. What looks good? What looks bad? (the list is quite possibly endless). When we do a dressing change we sometimes fail to properly educate the patient and their family members. We sometimes fail to put ourselves in their shoes. The insurmountable amount of questions they may have. Their fear. Their intentions, etc., etc.

I guess being the patient reminded me of how delicately balanced our responsibilities are, and I’m glad I was reminded in a cooperative and kind way. Because the fact of the matter is, we deal in life and death every hour of our working day. I don’t want any part of my care becoming trivial.

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8 Responses to The BEST way to train nurses

  1. Martha Carr

    I agree wholeheartedly! I worked on a medical/oncology unit and dealt with dying patients and their families all the time. And when a patient died, I didn’t understand why the family was so broken up. Didn’t they want to see their loved one out of pain and at peace? But when my husband died, I wished that I could personally apologize to each and every one of them. No one can ever understand how it feels to lose that spouse, just his physical presence, the hugs, the things only shared by the two of you. The special things you say to each other that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else. I could go on, but take it from me, that is the worst thing to happen to anyone. It took me a year before I could even say the word “died” And my daughters are still crying over their Daddy. So I am now working in an inpatient Hospice, so I can help the patients and their families!

    • Sean Dent

      @martha WOW. Sorry for your loss, and thanks for sharing your story.

  2. John

    Very true Sean! As a nurse who is experiencing disability, I can also attest that going through the process of obtaining Social Security Disability, applying for Medicaid, and struggling to make ends meet after losing my job and being unable to work opens up a lot of understanding and empathy for patients who not only have medical issues, but other life issues as well!

  3. Dawn

    It’s articles like this that make me want to unsubscribe to these type if sites. Constant scrutiny and criticism of our work is what I hate about the profession. I love the aspect of caring for patients as well as the teaching part of my job. How about educating patients and their family membes to take responsibility for themselves and their healthcare. Also unless you work I’m pediatrics this constant coddling of patients is only contributing to the next generation of helpless enabled adults

    • Sean Dent

      @Dawn Thank you for your comment. You are right, we do need to empower our patients to improve their own self care.

  4. laura

    I always talked to my patients, no matter what I was doing. If family was present, I talked to them also. Even if a patient was comatose, I spoke. And I like to think I taught some nurses and aides when they’d hear me speaking to the dead: especially then, the patient came first. Respect was first and foremost.

    • Sean Dent

      @Laura So glad to hear we have colleagues like you. Thank you.