Listen, Nurse

  1. I am going into 4th year nursing, and this was in one of our labs in first year. I love this thing, it really makes you think about how you are caring for your patients. In the rush of everything, would one minute really kill us?

    Listen, Nurse

    I was hungry and could not feed myself. You left my food tray out of reach on my bedside table, then you discussed my nutritional needs in a nursing conference.

    I was thirsty and helpless, but you forgot to ask the attendant to refill my water pitcher. You later charted that I refused liquids.

    I was in financial difficulties and in your mind I became an object of annoyance.

    I was a nursing problem and you discussed the theoretical basis of my illness. And you did not even see me.

    I was thought to be dying and, thinking I could not hear, you said you hoped I would not die before it was time to finish for your day because you had an appointment at the beauty parlor before your evening date.

    You seem so well educated, well spoken, and so very neat in your spotless unwrinkled uniform. But when I speak, you seem to listen but do not hear me.

    Help me, care about what happens to me, I am so tired, so lonely, and so very afraid. Talk to me - reach out to me - take my hand. Let what happens to me matter to you.

    Please, nurse, listen.

    ---Roth Johnston, RN

    Let me know what you think!

    Amanda
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  2. 57 Comments

  3. by   RNforLongTime
    This is a very nice poem, but as an RN for 4 years--you are never in a patients room for just a "minute". I would love to be able to spend time just talking to my patients but today's healthcare situation has just made this impossible. I can barely get all of my work done as it is now.

    Patients are important but with all of the demands being placed on me, and having to do the work of 4 or 5 people, I just do not have the time. Sad. Truly sad. I do the best that I can with the resources that I have and sometimes even that is not enough. I always ask my patients before I leave their room--"Is there anything else that I can do for you right now?" They know that I may not be back in to see them for a while.

    When you are out in the "real world", you will see what I mean.
  4. by   Jenny P
    I've worked in critical care for over 28 ears, so my viewpoint is from this background. I have seen nurses take the time to listen to their patients (after all, we are staffed 1:1 or 1:2) but still manage to put things out of reach of the patient. I've also seen nurses talking "over" their patients about their personal lives; and I've always tried to discourage this (after all, my age and seniority do have some authority!). I think we all tend to forget the little things when we are overworked and stressed out. I find that if we forget these little things, the patient is on the call light more often, so it makes the job easier if you try to picture yourself lying in that bed and anticipate their needs before you leave the room.
    It's a good poem, and I would keep it in sight for a long time to help keep you remembering these little things for your patients.
  5. by   Mijourney
    Hi. This very pertinent poem helps put the focus of our work or what should be the focus in perspective. This was and still is the basis for my work at the bedside. It should be the focus of everyone who has direct or indirect contact with patients and families. But, panda, this poem needs to go beyond the choir. As kaknurse implied, it needs to go to the people who make all the strategic decisions that directly impact patient care. Unfortunately, it's not the nurses and other direct health care workers.
  6. by   tonchitoRN
    When I was doing clinicals in nursing school the nurse I was working with said I "talked and listened" too much with the patients. The patients loved it but the fact is it would make me late to get the work done. In the real world that became compounded. When you have many patients to tend to it is considered a luxury to be able to listen. Your first priority is to get the work done and do it well.
    Whenever administration would dump more work on the nurse they would say "Oh it will only take you 5 minutes". Well, in my mind I was thinking just yesterday I spent 30 minutes of my own time after my shift finishing up. and now you want me to spend 35 minutes of my own time. NOOT. I want my time for my family.
    Really, I wish I had one minute to listen to a patient but it probably won't happen anytime soon.
  7. by   kcsun3
    Can someone please clarify for me what exactly is more important than the patient?

    Steph
    The Student Nurse Forum
    http://kcsun3.tripod.com
  8. by   tonchitoRN
    Someone just asked "what is more important than the patient?" I'll tell you who, YOU! Your physical and mental well being should be your priority. This is probably the number one reason nurses burn out is because they do not care for themselves. Another more important person should be your family, especially if you have kids. I prefer to work my 40 hour weeks in a low stress area for less pay. It is true I do not have the luxuries of those higher paid nurses but I have something money cannot buy: peace of mind, time with my kids etc.
    So I say, take care of yourself and don't feel guilty about it.
  9. by   kcsun3
    TonchitoRN, I agree with what you have said wholeheartedly, however what I was asking (I apologize for not being more clear) is:

    On the job, what is more important that the patient, in terms of priority?

    Steph
    The Student Nurse Forum
    http://kcsun3.tripod.com
  10. by   ACNORN
    I know we are all busier than we can stand these days, but there still is not a good reason why we can't do simple little things like making sure the phone, call light, and water are in reach of the patient before we leave the room. When the nurse anticipates the patient's needs, the patient won't have to be on the call light all the time - giving you more uninterrupted time to get your work done. Listening and having conversations with your patient can also be done sometimes while you are doing a procedure with the patient. I think the poem is a good reminder to put our patient's needs first rather than being so task oriented.
  11. by   frustratedRN
    this is one of the most disheartening things about this profession.
    there is nothing more important than the patient while you are at work. you feel that...the hospitals tell you that. but its not true. the most important thing at work, according to the employers is the paperwork. thats really want they want done. making sure their asses are covered every step of the way.
    if you asked the ceo which he would rather have you do...fill a water pitcher or chart your assessment what do you think he would say?
    and yes this is why nurses get burned out. we are unable to give the kind of care we want to give. i know that some of my patients are lonely and some need more attention than others. i give them all the time i can which is very little these days. its a double standard...in an eight hour shift on my unit there are so many things that need charting plus all the other tasks that need attending to...id like to get out of there on time at least once. it never happens. i cant. i will spend and extra 20 mns with mrs jones because she is having surgery in the am and the docs never really explained it to her. of course she is scared.
    i spend an extra 10 with mr smith because he is going home and has questions about his discharge instructions.
    20 more minutes with mr johnson because he has been waiting in his room to be taken to the door for discharge. i cant stand to see him in that wheelchair just waiting so i take him. mrs brown would like to have some information on a test she is having in the morning and there are no patient teaching materials on the unit so i need to run down to the gi lab to get her some. another 10 minutes.
    all of these things together have taken me an hour. they are ALL important. but now im far behind in my documentation. ill prob never catch up because now these patients know i will help them
    they will ask me for more and i will surely accomodate them. you see...i thought that was my job.
    but in reality its not what the hospital wants. they want me to show up on time. they want me to follow thru with treatments, they want me to dispense meds and they want EVERYTHING documented. they dont care if i stay late. ive already stayed over 4 hours after my shift just to finish. ive been told they dont care how long it takes, i am not to go home until its all finished.
    that seems to be their focus.
    however, i am not the kind of nurse who can do that. i will help my patients and i will take care of their needs no matter how small they might seem to me. i hope i never change
  12. by   Mijourney
    Originally posted by frustratedRN
    this is one of the most disheartening things about this profession.
    there is nothing more important than the patient while you are at work. you feel that...the hospitals tell you that. but its not true. the most important thing at work, according to the employers is the paperwork. thats really want they want done. making sure their asses are covered every step of the way.
    if you asked the ceo which he would rather have you do...fill a water pitcher or chart your assessment what do you think he would say?
    and yes this is why nurses get burned out. we are unable to give the kind of care we want to give. i know that some of my patients are lonely and some need more attention than others. i give them all the time i can which is very little these days. its a double standard...in an eight hour shift on my unit there are so many things that need charting plus all the other tasks that need attending to...id like to get out of there on time at least once. it never happens. i cant. i will spend and extra 20 mns with mrs jones because she is having surgery in the am and the docs never really explained it to her. of course she is scared.
    i spend an extra 10 with mr smith because he is going home and has questions about his discharge instructions.
    20 more minutes with mr johnson because he has been waiting in his room to be taken to the door for discharge. i cant stand to see him in that wheelchair just waiting so i take him. mrs brown would like to have some information on a test she is having in the morning and there are no patient teaching materials on the unit so i need to run down to the gi lab to get her some. another 10 minutes.
    all of these things together have taken me an hour. they are ALL important. but now im far behind in my documentation. ill prob never catch up because now these patients know i will help them
    they will ask me for more and i will surely accomodate them. you see...i thought that was my job.
    but in reality its not what the hospital wants. they want me to show up on time. they want me to follow thru with treatments, they want me to dispense meds and they want EVERYTHING documented. they dont care if i stay late. ive already stayed over 4 hours after my shift just to finish. ive been told they dont care how long it takes, i am not to go home until its all finished.
    that seems to be their focus.
    however, i am not the kind of nurse who can do that. i will help my patients and i will take care of their needs no matter how small they might seem to me. i hope i never change
    Frustrated, the powers to be only want you to function like a superwoman or superman, in my opinion. They are unable to separate reality from fiction. They and their out of touch consultants think that life should be a fairytale-you can have your cake, eat it, and live happily ever after. The workers should consider it a priviledge to work in their facility and be totally content with what their getting because it could be worse. It could be better. What they want us to do in terms of keeping the "customers" satisfied and their bottomlines in check, a robot would wear out rapidly doing.

    Frustrated, I have recently heard via the media that it's an employers market, because of the downturns and the fact that the masses are dependent on their employers for things like health insurance.
  13. by   canoehead
    Originally posted by kcsun3
    Can someone please clarify for me what exactly is more important than the patient?

    Steph
    The Student Nurse Forum
    http://kcsun3.tripod.com
    Documentation! Because you work for the hospital, and that is their priority. If you want to spend time with patients you need to find a hospital that makes patient care the priority.

    For every hour we spend on patient care we spend 1/2 to 1 hour documenting, depending on the unit.
  14. by   P_RN
    "what is more important than the patient?"

    patient? only nurses seem to recognise we have them......

    they are clients, customers, etc. and we aren't care givers....we are nursing service line.......would you like fries with that?

    the last day (night actualy) i worked i had fifteen patients. in 12 hours...not counting the no bathroom break, the no meal break (nights didn't get it) that is 48 rn minutes per "patient."

    but......was that 48 min. at the bedside?....you know not...
    it was 15 min for report....
    45 mins to get meds ready......
    about 20 minutes to give them.....

    so ok then there were the 8 post ops.....they probably deserved more than 48 mins in a shift.....
    being as they all had epidurals which required q 1h assessment after the routine post op vital signs (q 30x2, q 1x2 --->q4 if stable...but stayed at q 1h for them).

    and they itched, they vomited, their pain med needed adjusting.

    there was the patient who had her entire hip and upper femur removed d/t ca and had it replaced with a cadaver femur and a thotal hip.....she needed moving to a private room.....guess i got to do that......

    oh i forgot to mention that the 8 post ops were also new admissions, and i got to do the 30 screen admission...in addition to the regular assessment screens. now there were 6 laptops available.....1 had a torn screen...so 5.....the tech had to chart so that left 4....guess what...the wireless modems didn't always work in the rooms...so you could get half way into an assessment and poof gone.......so it was done outside the room or in the nurses station.

    to me...yep the patient is #1 in importance......without them i wouldn't have a job........but.......without me...after moving that bed i never worked again....herniated disks, chronic pain, numb left leg, .....they replaced me the next day and then fought any claim for medical i asked for......

    me, the nurse important?

    nope nursing service line...would you like fries with that?

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