Most students entering the nursing profession ask themselves “How can I make a difference in my patient’s lives?” This question follows a nurse throughout their career. As they change jobs, work in different facilities and take on various roles, the nurse will learn to answer this question in unique ways.
The Honest Profession
People see nurses as honest and ethical players in the healthcare industry. Patients put their trust in nurses as they receive medication, treatments, advice and direction from a nurse they may have just met. Maintaining that trust from patients will make a significant difference in their healthcare. Being an honest health care provider means respecting the individual and allowing them to participate in their own care.
Make a Connection
Compassion is the foundation of nursing. Making a connection with patients creates the bond through which all things are communicated. Patients in need are vulnerable and desire to have a connection. With this connection, they feel safe under your care. They talk about things with you that they would never mention to anyone else, even their closest family. Their trust in you reduces fear and anxiety. As a nurse, you will most likely have the most contact with any patients. Having this consistent connection with people they trust helps a patient through the challenges of their medical needs.
Keep Yourself Healthy
The downside of creating a human connection with your patients is how draining it can be on you. Find ways to keep yourself physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. The patients respond to your moods and attitude. Being able to keep a healthy, positive attitude will influence them and give them positive energy to work with. Even when they don’t feel it within themselves. Don’t hesitate to talk with your supervisors and in-house counselors should you begin to feel down or emotionally tired.
Become a Great Listener
Learn to listen to people with all of your senses. People find it challenging to talk about their health. They may have trouble finding the words. Or, they may be embarrassed. Listen to what is said. Watch their body language. Observe how they respond to their own words. Within the “story” they tell you are their own experience of their health or healthcare needs. When it is appropriate, feed back to them your interpretation of what you have heard and let them make corrections. It will be a great comfort to patients to know that someone truly understands their situation and has compassion for it.
Always the Teacher
Nurses can give information to a patient in numerous ways. “This is what you will do” is the authoritarian approach and makes you responsible for the patient getting better. “Let me show you how to do this, so you will feel better” teaches the patient what to do to facilitate their own healthcare. By empowering the patient with the knowledge, you gain trust and establish a greater bond of cooperation. The patient feels respected since you allow them to be a part of the care.
The Patient’s Advocate
Patients put themselves into the hands of strangers trusting that they will help them. There are few situations outside of healthcare where people will do that. Being an advocate for the patients mean helping them through the scary and confusing processes of modern medicine. Helping them get to the right people. Explaining what will be completed in other departments and passing on the patient’s fears to other healthcare providers. These are all the ways to create a positive influence on a person’s care.
Don’t Stop Learning
Nursing is not a transitional role. It is a profession with years of history and honor. As you move through your career, continue to learn about what nursing is and how it affects people. Yes, learn and master new techniques and procedures. But, they are often only as effective as the way in which they are delivered. How you practice the art of nursing is where you will make the biggest difference in your patient’s lives.