Toughen UP

  1. Hi everyone. I'm a first year nursing student on my way to a BSN. I am worried that I am not going to be able to detach myself from patients. I have signed up to volunteer for cancer patients to try and teach myself to stop feeling sad. Many nurses have said that they cry sometimes, but i want to know a few tricks on how to focus on helping the patient, not dwelling on their unhappines due to the illness.

    All your experience and knowledge is very much appreciated.
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  2. 3 Comments

  3. by   realnursealso/LPN
    Originally posted by angelica23:
    Hi everyone. I'm a first year nursing student on my way to a BSN. I am worried that I am not going to be able to detach myself from patients. I have signed up to volunteer for cancer patients to try and teach myself to stop feeling sad. Many nurses have said that they cry sometimes, but i want to know a few tricks on how to focus on helping the patient, not dwelling on their unhappines due to the illness.

    All your experience and knowledge is very much appreciated.
    Angelica....Why wouldn't you want to cry at times? I have been a nurse for 21yrs., and have cried many times in my career. Sometimes it is a great stress reliever, sometimes you just can't help it, and sometimes you just need to. I know in nursing school they teach empathy not sympathy but, really it's ok to shed tears. Did someone tell you it is wrong to cry? You know the reason we all got into this is because we care about people and want to help them, and sometimes you just get attached. Please don't toughen yourself up. We need caring nurses and I don't think that working with cancer patients is going to toughen you up.Don't get me wrong...lots of times I have held them back until I could leave the room or until the crisis was over...but Angelica, you are a person just like anyone else, not some superhuman without emotions. Yes you need to keep your wits about you in an emergency, and do all you can, but I think that you were refering to death and dying. Can't seem to explain it the way I want..it's 1:30 am when I am writing this and I am tired and the words just don't seem to come. But I just wanted you to know..we all cry sometimes at work and their is no way to stop it. You will learn to cope...good luck...you will be a fine nurse I'm sure.


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  4. by   prmenrs
    Haven't you ever heard a family describe a relative's death in a hospital? "Even the nurses were crying!" It's a validation that their relative was a meaningful, valued person! It gives MUCH comfort to the family if you are able to share, in some small way, the grief that can be so overwhelming.

    That doesn't mean that you are so prostrate with sorrow that you cannot do your job. If it is not your patient, it helps to approach the family, touch them and tell them you're sorry for their loss. So that the nurse assigned to the family can stay with them and help them, offer to help w/ some of her other pts, ask of they need vitals or meds or whatever. Comfort her, too, esp. if it's a primary pt, or someone she's "bonded" with.

    If it is your patient, you will have many duties on which to focus, preparing the body (let family members help if they wish), charting, death packet, making sure hospital policy and procedure is followed, etc.

    But if you ever really manage to teach yourself "to stop feeling sad", at least a little bit, you'll need to go back and look the word "nursing" up in the dictionary!
    FEEL, don't be incapacitated. You can help the patient and family more effectively if you acknowledge how you feel, and work with them. Even as you do that, keep in mind all the other things you'll be doing for the pt. Meds, treatments, documenting. You're the nurse, you know how to do all that stuff. The family is counting on you!

    As a staff nurse, this will not be the only patient you have! All the pts in your assignment need to be cared for. Being busy will help you NOT be overwhelmed by one sad case.

    Good Luck! Hope this helps.

    [This message has been edited by prmenrs (edited January 20, 2001).]
  5. by   Franni
    You obviously care about people because you are going into nursing, so don't change. It is okay to cry, I'm a pediatric nurse and we cry all the time. It is okay! As a patient's family I would be comforted if my nurse cared about my family member enough to cry.

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