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The Best Thing a Nurse Can Do

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As a nursing student about to graduate, I've seen a little bit of clinical experience. Take a minute to think about it. When we start our first clinical, we don't have an idea of how to talk or care for these people we call our patients.

"Do you want more ice?", "I have to look under his gown?", "I have to get my teacher first", are all things that we have said. We had no idea what the nursing universe was like. As we grew into our new roles, we, also, grew confidence. We got better at our skills and less awkward with our patients. Some of us, however, lost the sense of humility. You begin to think that, because you've gotten more experience, your patients have, too.


Recently, I learned a great lesson in humility. I went to my facility and was to receive report and start the day. When asked about my patient, I was told how hard of a time they were giving the nurses. I was painted a picture of a horrible and dissatisfied patient. Anxiety rushed over me as I approached the room. However, I thought about my upbringing. My parents always told me to give someone a chance before forming an opinion. I took a deep breath at the door and prepared my smile. Walking into the room, I gave a hearty "Good morning!" and introduced myself. I started my assessment after we exchanged names.

"Can you tell me where you are?"

"They tell me I'm at said facility, but it feels like Hell."

I can tell you, I gulped and hardened my heart. This was not a good start. I pushed forward, maintaining my smile, however.

"Oh, my goodness. What makes you say that?"

"I've been asking for a drink for two hours, I'm hungry, my nurse has woke me up all through the night, and I'm ready to leave."

"Oh, wow. That is a lot. I know you must be ready to go home. What kind of drink would you like?"

"Root beer."

I checked her chart. Why hadn't she gotten a drink or food? There was no hold on fluids or foods.

"I'm going to go see if I can find you a root beer and see when breakfast is."

"Yeah, right. Nobody listens to me around here."

Clearly, she had been having a very rough night. When I walked out, I checked her chart again and asked her nurse if I could get her a drink. She didn't see why not, there wasn't a hold on anything. When I walked back in the room, my patient stared as I talked and poured her root beer into an cup of ice.

"Breakfast is coming in thirty minutes. Is there anything else I can get you?"

"No, dear. I think I'm fine, now."

Now that my patient was calmed down, I felt that maybe I could speak with her about one of her comments: that nobody listens to her. We talked and she aired out all of her grievances over the past two weeks that she had been in the hospital. I used the communication techniques my teachers taught me. I sat at eye level, smiled when she smiled, and clarified anything I felt I needed to know more about. Our day slowly began to get better, as each time I walked into her room, she started smiling more and more.

By the end of the day, I told her I was leaving and how much I enjoyed her allowing me to be her student nurse. She asked me for a hug and told me that I really helped change her mood and feel better. I didn't get to do a lot of skills that day or save a life. I just made a patient smile.

It is one of the best clinical experiences I have had, thus far.

I encourage us all to remember that a sour mood can make a sour patient. We should practice the fundamentals they teach us, even after our fundamental semester is long over. We should practice fidelity and build trust. We should listen and offer ourselves to our patients. Most importantly, we should walk in and smile. A smile can change a mood. It can change a life. It can change your patients' lives.

Edited by Joe V

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Thank you for sharing.

Its a wonderful testimony and a great reminder!

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