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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