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Skilled Connections...the Heart of Nursing

Students Article   (5,925 Views 10 Comments 624 Words)
by ElizabethStoneRN ElizabethStoneRN (Member) Writer

ElizabethStoneRN works as a Pediatric Emergency Nurse and Clinical Instructor.

5 Likes; 10 Articles; 29,196 Visitors; 41 Posts

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While new nursing students often are very focused on their hands-on nursing skills, they don’t always realize that some of the most important skills as a nurse are not performed with their hands but with their hearts, minds and voices. Sometimes, words of inspiration found in a special quote or poem can help illustrate this concept and support student nurses during these formative years and beyond.

Skilled Connections...the Heart of Nursing

The fall semester is about to begin, and I prepare to take a new group of students into the hospital for their first clinical experience as student nurses. I still recall my first semester as a student nurse. My first clinical instructor was very positive and idealistic; on the first day of class she gave all of us a poem about the meaning of nursing. It was written from the point of view of a military nurse caring for soldiers as if they were her own family.

I remember parts of the poem which were particularly meaningful to me. For example, when caring for a patient, this nurse always reminded herself that they were some else's loved one: a husband, father, or son. I liked that analogy and still refer to it today in my patient care and clinical teaching. I placed the poem in the front of my notebook so that I could read it every day in nursing school.

One concept I try to communicate to my students from day one is the difference between the art and the science of nursing, and the necessity of cultivating both. Students are sometimes so concerned with the science of nursing: learning hands-on skills, passing medications and researching pathophysiology, that they don't always focus enough on communicating with and connecting with their patient. Simple things like making eye contact, being mindful and focused on their patient, sitting down when talking, and taking care to use language the patient understands all help strengthen the connection they have with their patients.

When the patient/nurse connection is stronger, there are many benefits to both patient and nurse. For example, my new nursing students often dread asking patients the questions that are included in a full psychosocial assessment. However, with practice and coaching, the students become more comfortable asking these questions which yield important information regarding a patient's support (or lack of support) at home, social history, health literacy, coping skills, and preferred learning style. Eventually the students realize how valuable this information is, and are often surprised by what they learn, as well as how much they enjoyed the process of obtaining the information. Perceptions change, preconceptions fall by the wayside, and social awareness increases. It is rewarding to see this transformation happen, and as a result, to see the students become more patient-centered in their communication and teaching, ultimately more effective in both. Even their nursing assessments are more accurate, because the patients feel more respected, informed, empowered and safe. They are more likely to tell the students when they have pain, other problems or questions, because the students have earned their trust by demonstrating that they care.

Nursing students tend to worry a lot about whether they are getting enough practice inserting foleys, administering medications...practicing all of the "skills" involved in our profession. They don't always realize the value of the more basic things they do for their patients such as simply listening, supporting, empowering, teaching, and caring. Quotes can be useful in driving home concepts in a memorable way. This quote from Maya Angelou is one of my favorite because it helps define the value of the human connection; it can be applied to many professions but I think it is perfect for nursing

Quote

 

People will forget what you said,

People will forget what you did,

But people will never forget how you made them feel.

 

Some of the richest rewards of my career as a clinical instructor are the moments I observe between my students and their patients.

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I'm a pediatric emergency nurse of 12+ years and a clinical instructor for UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Nursing.

5 Likes; 10 Articles; 29,196 Visitors; 41 Posts

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Here.I.Stand has 16 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a RN.

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Well, I do think "skills" are a valid concern when students go through their entire program without giving a single IV med, even attempting a single IV start, or other things that I see new grads describe here on AN. Manual skills do require manual practice.

Otherwise though, I agree completely about practicing the art of nursing and how important that is. Good piece!

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la_chica_suerte85 works as a RN Resident.

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I think sometimes for me, as a student, the thing that is more nerve-wracking than attempting a new, invasive skill like an IV start is connecting with a patient. It's indescribable how foreign and bizarre it can feel to walk in and see a patient and not really know what to say other than, "Good morning." especially when you're met with a patient who has had less than ideal sleep, is in pain, is hungry, is disoriented and/or any other innumerable things that intimidate a hapless student. I really appreciate this post because it makes it seem all the more tangible that I will one day be able to communicate much better with patients and will master the skills of assessment by honing in on genuine nurse-patient therapeutic relationships. Thank you for this!

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honeyforasalteyfish works as a Towel related.

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While I am not a nurse yet. I think patient support is very important. I have been a patient continue to be a patient, and the support of nurses has inspired me to get my own life in order. While I would rather never ever see them because it means I am as healthy as a horse, that has unfortunately not been my situation. I am thankful I have had healthcare professionals good at what they do. Both professionally, and from an emotional standpoint. This is not my proudest moment, but when I had a lung abscess I threw a little tantrum. I had just gone back to school with the goal of becoming a RN. I was oh so close to a 4.0 while working 30 hours a week. As you can imagine ending up in the hospital with a lung abscess did not please me. I felt like my life was slipping away. It was the entire healthcare team who was there for me, and listened to me blab about how much I admired them, and wanted to be a RN, While simultaneously bragging about how close to a 4.0 I was, and complaining the entire time that my grades where slipping away from me. I ended up with two Bs, but given my situation things worked out well. If I am ever fortunate enough to become a RN my experiences as a patient are something I will never forget. I hope I never forget the reason I am here today, and who tolerated my BS when I was down, out, and desperate the entire healthcare team. I took thank you cards to all of them for their services, small consolation for dealing with a mulehead like me, but it is what I could offer.

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ElizabethStoneRN works as a Pediatric Emergency Nurse and Clinical Instructor.

5 Likes; 10 Articles; 29,196 Visitors; 41 Posts

Well, I do think "skills" are a valid concern when students go through their entire program without giving a single IV med, even attempting a single IV start, or other things that I see new grads describe here on AN. Manual skills do require manual practice.

Otherwise though, I agree completely about practicing the art of nursing and how important that is. Good piece!

I totally agree- manual skills are necessary and we as instructors have to really work to seek out opportunities to ensure that our students get enough of these. the art of nursing, however- the soft skills that include communication (with patients and peers), teamwork, etc...these can be more difficult to teach than those manual skills, esp when they aren't innate to the student- thanks for your feedback!

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Here.I.Stand has 16 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a RN.

95 Likes; 1 Follower; 41,546 Visitors; 4,769 Posts

the art of nursing, however- the soft skills that include communication (with patients and peers), teamwork, etc...these can be more difficult to teach than those manual skills, esp when they aren't innate to the student- thanks for your feedback!

Absolutely!! I'm pretty introverted, and remember as a student being SO nervous, not knowing what to say to pts/families. I mean, sometimeswhat can you say? So then, what do you do? You can't just stand there... That was definitely a learning curve.

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nurseactivist has 40 years experience and works as a RN, PHN retired.

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I was a student who had to have a 4.0 gpa forty years ago. I did it one semester and then realized, "so what." I never did it again. I focused on learning and not on an arbitrary grading system that really meant nothing.

Another favorite quote by Maya Angelou: [h=1]I did then what I knew best, when I knew better, I did better. Maya Angelo[/h]

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735 Visitors; 4 Posts

Wonderful piece! Do you know, by chance, the name of the poem?

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ElizabethStoneRN works as a Pediatric Emergency Nurse and Clinical Instructor.

5 Likes; 10 Articles; 29,196 Visitors; 41 Posts

Wonderful piece! Do you know, by chance, the name of the poem?

Oh I wish I did! I tried to find it. I will continue to try and if I do I'll post it as a reply to your comment so you get it

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