Learning to Heal

I’ve long been a proponent of nurses writing their stories to educate the general public about what we really do. Here’s a book: Learning to Heal: Reflections on Nursing School in Poetry and Prosethat does that and more.

The essays, from seasoned nurses as well as recent grads and “respected elders,” are set in the United States and abroad and show the history, rigors, challenges, humor, and sadness that alternate during the nursing school experience. Not every author in this collection makes it to graduation.

The prerequisite of nursing—compassion, empathy, and psychological support—threads through the stories. The reader will learn the depth of the nurse-patient/family connection. This connection becomes ingrained in the nurses’ psyche as evidenced by Courtney Davis’ Wednesday’s Child. Her story mirrors my Baby in the Closet. She, too, wrote about a newborn with a deformity who was left to die in a linen closet. Courtney, like me, carried the fate of the baby along with unanswered questions for almost 50 years!

Never a specialty I wanted to practice, psychiatric nursing demands a special temperament.  Poetry especially captures the depths of human understanding needed to make a difference.

. . . Come to my group, my plea, as I knelt offering

filtered cigarettes as free admission tickets.

In an empty silence, we sat on single beds, arranged

in a square, in a room as cavernous as an airplane hangar.

What was my hurry? Most had lived there twenty years.

Hardly a word dropped into the atmosphere.

—Ward 24, Nancy Kerrigan

I associated with Geraldine Gorman’s Learning the Wisdom of Tea, who takes us though her education from a diploma nurse to a PhD. I, too, wondered where were the “(f)irst person accounts of interactions of patients and family . . .”  Where were the nursing stories? And I, too, questioned the authoritative methods of instructors in nursing academia. And I, too, felt fortunate to find a career path that allowed me to “practice outside the hospital.” My “wisdom of tea” began at the kitchen tables of my patients when I visited their homes as a guest, learning that I needed to obtain their cooperation in order to institute a treatment plan.

The stories and poems in this anthology are varied, educational, entertaining, and poignant. Whether the reader is a nurse or not, all will learn that nursing has come a long way as Learning to Heal stories excellently show.

Traits Every Great Nurse Has

I discovered a great nursing blog: Diversity Nursing Blog. Here is a post I especially liked. Hope you do too.

 

DiversityNursing Blog

Traits Every Great Nurse Has

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Mar 23, 2018 @ 09:19 AM

 

What makes a good Nurse? What are the qualities of terrific Nurses? The Nursing profession is about kindness and caring for the whole person as well as medical, emotional and technical knowledge, and so much more. Below are a few traits that make Nurses so great!

 

GOOD COMMUNICATION

Communication is essential to patient safety, health and well-being. As you are at the center of patient care, it is your responsibility to facilitate dialog. As you care for older and more culturally diverse populations, you will need to strengthen your communication skills. Without strong communication skills, serious errors can occur.

 

EMOTIONAL STABILITY

As you know, Nursing is a stressful job where traumatic situations are common. The ability to accept suffering and death without letting it get personal is crucial. Some days can seem like non-stop gloom and doom. There are heartwarming moments like helping a patient recover, reuniting families, or bonding with fellow Nurses. But those moments are less common than the tougher situations. So remember to take care of YOU too so you can handle the inevitable crises.

 

EMPATHY

Empathy is a complex emotion and can be a complex concept while working with many patients who have different kinds of needs. Responding with empathy requires the ability to put yourself in your patient’s shoes, see situations from their perspective and demonstrate that you understand their feelings and are reading them accurately. Most importantly, it requires you to act on that understanding in appropriate and therapeutic ways.

 

ATTENTION TO DETAIL

Paying attention to minute details is important in the Nursing profession, especially when you have a lot on your plate. You must document everything you do on patients’ charts, listen closely to their description of symptoms, ask the right questions, and remember to bring medications at appropriate times. It’s critical to remember even the smallest detail amidst all of the commotion. At the end of the day, one small slip-up could become a fatal mistake.

 

PHYSICAL ENDURANCE

You encounter many patients with lifestyle-related disorders. With this in mind, a basic understanding of the role physical fitness plays in prevention and rehabilitation is key. You can be a positive influence on patients who have to make life­style choices if they see you’ve made good choices. If you stay fit, you not only feel good, you’re a great role model for your patients.

 

Physical fitness improves your ability to effectively perform the physical tasks you do every day. One study of 146 Registered Nurses, over a 12-hour shift, found they covered an average of 4 to 5 miles per shift. I’m sure you’re not surprised by this information!

 

DESIRE TO CONTINUE LEARNING

Medical knowledge and technology are advancing rapidly. As a great Nurse, you know the importance of working on your professional development and skills, and learning new things.

 

SENSE OF HUMOR

This is imperative! A joke and a few laughs can take the edge off of a tough day and…it feels good. Need we say more?