Quote from lesley_girl
I am graduating in May 2004 and am so excited. My nursing skills are quickly progressing and I'm finally gaining confidence in my abilities. However, the hardest thing for me is dealing with families. I get so nervous when family is in the room. I somtimes avoid going into a room until family leaves just because they make me so nervous. I can't always avoid family. What are your suggestions?
Lesley, I've wanted to be a Nurse for 20 years - spent 6 years in the Navy as a Corpsman, but going for my RN (with children, work, etc.) kept being put off.
It wasn't until my Mom was dying from Emphysema 2 years ago and I saw how the ICU Nurses treated her - that I finally decided I needed to do this and try and make a difference. Sorry for the length of this - but hopefully it will help you understand how "very important" you will be to your patients families.
I ended up living in my husbands home State - 700 hundred miles from my family. 2 years ago, My Mom ended up in the ICU (end stage of emphysema) and I had to rush home. I won't mention the hospital - but it's one of the very best in the Boston area - assumed she'd get top notch care. I knew the ICU was a busy place, but I spent almost 2 weeks at her bedside and was "shocked" at how poor the care she received was. My first day there I saw that Mom was slumped down in the bed gasping for breath (despite the oxygen) - told the Nurse she needed another pillow or two to prop her head up to ease her breathing. The Nurse came back an hour later with a pillow, tossed Mom's body forward - threw the pillow behind her and "literally" shoved her back onto the bed and said "there - that should do it" and ran back out of the room. Mom had just come off a vent. and wasn't able to talk - but just the look in her eyes said "please help me". I had many questions to ask the Nurse, but she vanished in a split second.
My brother and his wife are both Nurses and we ended up doing a lot of her personal care because when something needed to be done, the Nurse always said she'd help us in "a few minutes" but it always turned into an hour or more. What upset me more than anything was when the Nursing Staff was in her room for a few brief moments and would talk about her (like she wasn't there). For example: She was on a Vent. for a time and they'd say how bad her numbers looked and didn't see her lasting much longer. Good Lord, she could still "hear" very well - you can't imagine the panicked look on my poor Mom's face - she was totally flipping out and looking at me and my siblings for some answers - am I dying, is this the end, someone tell me something - it was horrible. Mom's Pulmonary Doc was an absolute *** - he wouldn't discuss her condition with us, said he only dealt with the patient, not the family. Since she couldn't talk and ask him questions - he wasn't a bunch of help.
One night after leaving her room I realized My Mother - who nursed me, changed my diapers and danced at my Wedding, My Boys Grandmother, The Very Best Friend I've ever had, The Woman I told all my secrets to and who loved me more than life itself - was dying and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it - I can't explain how overwhelmed I was. I got as far as the Nurses Station and started to collapse (total panic attack) - an "Angel" named Cathy caught me before I hit the floor and took me into the Nurses lounge. She got me some juice, let me cry my heart out and spent a long time talking to me about Mom's illness. She was the first person who took the time to talk to me about what was going on with Mom and helped me understand how bad her condition really was and the end was near. Cathy was the reason I decided to finally pursue my dream of Nursing - that's the kind of Nurse I want to be - someone who goes the extra mile and understands that the patient lying in that bed has a family that is also in pain.
I called Cathy in the ICU after Mom's funeral and thanked her for all she'd done. She said she rarely got thanks from families and never from families of patients who had passed away - said it made her day to know she'd helped me that much.
Again, sorry for the length. Just wanted you to realize (especially dealing with critical patients) how truly helpless the family feels and any little kindness you can show them - goes a very long way. Susan