Thursday, April 22, 2010

Talking to nurses

This week I had the opportunity to share some of our personal health care experiences with a few nurses from Park Nicollet/Methodist Hospital during a portion of their orientation day called the Family Perspective. I spoke about the impact and influence nurses have on not only the patient but the family. Since the focus for this particular presentation was on the end of life I shared some stories about Michael's last hospitalization and a couple about my Mom.

I felt like it was important to share experiences I had early in my life with nurses that influenced me during my Mom’s seven year cancer journey. To this day, almost thirty years later I haven’t forgotten the loving, nurturing care they provided to my Mom as she battled with cancer and in the way they nurtured me at the same time. Those nurses taught me how to be a strong and effective advocate. They developed a relationship with me that went above and beyond their clinical responsibilities. They recognized that as my Mom was fighting for her life, I was trying to live mine. During those seven years my Mom had cancer, I got my first fulltime job, got married, and had my first baby. Sadly, I also had my first encounters with hospitals, emergency rooms, oncology, surgeons, doctors, and nurses.

Reflecting over my talk to the nurses this week I was reminded once again of the importance of relationships in health care. A nurse is never just caring for a patient but is caring for the whole family. Not an easy task to say the least but one that is vitally important. In the situation with my Mom’s illness I knew that I wanted to be there for her but I also knew that I needed to be other places too. I started making the connection between putting priority to my life and how that spoke into my Mom’s total health and emotional well being. This is why you need nurses to partner with you and understand the importance of the medical experience as well as the human experience. Only then are you able to give equal time and attention to both roles. It is nurses that give you the confidence to feel as if you don’t have to be at the hospital all the time.

This was the same type of mother/child conflict I experienced while caring for Michael. As much as I wanted and/or needed to be with him at the hospital all of the time I also longed to be home with my daughter. Both were deep desires of my heart, and both were equally important. The nurses who took the time to get to know me understood that their proactive and dependable nursing skills would give me the confidence to then make choices that supported my role of Mom to both of my children. The nurse is then caring not only for Michael but for me and my family as well, fostering a human experience inside the medical one.

My hope and prayer as I left the presentation at Park Nicollet this week was that the nurses who just heard my family’s stories are now providing that type of above and beyond nurturing care for some other family right now.

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