This week my takeaway is pretty lengthy.
– Care for the patient and the family; provide accurate updates; allow time for patients and families to ask questions; use positive words when appropriate; and most important help the patient understand everything that you do, and how it will benefit the patient.
During your clinical rotations, and working as a nurse, you will be called to take care of a patient that has sustained traumatic injuries, which involves in a lengthy emotionally intense hospital stay. Most of the time family members schedule shifts, and one member of the family will be at the bedside of the patient at all times. When you encounter this, please remember that you are being watched. Very closely. The family members will take any opportunity to review the care as well as to take any of your facial expressions or assessment findings to give them more information, which could lead into misinterpretations.
So, as you assess, make sure you stay as neutral as possible so as to not worry the patient’s family near by, or bring false hope. As student nurses we are still working on our skills so please check with a working RN to double check any assessment findings before speaking with the families. For example, patients who are brain dead for months, family members may be dealing with end of life decisions. You may have assessment finings, which family members will inaccurately grasp, and bring them down the path that the patient can recover. Always, always, give the family members an opportunity to ask questions. You do not want them to misinterpret any findings or discussions.
On another note, if you are caring for a patient who is alert and oriented, as you assess try to use positive words instead of negative words. Try to inform the patient families that as you assess and you find the patient is stable, tell them just that. Patient’s families during this emotional time want to hear that the patient is getting “better.” If the patient isn’t getting worse or getting better, inform them that the patient is stable. Try to keep the family in the loop.
As a nurse, your job is not only to take care of the patient, but also take care of the family. Don’t just go into the room and do things in a task manner. The patient nor the family wants to feel like they are a task you need to get checked off. As you have a list of orders to follow, always remember that what is best for your patient is what is best for you to do. Check in with the family here and there. Families go through a lot watching a loved one in a hospital. They tend to feel helpless. If they need time away or to speak with someone find resources that can help them during this time.
As you review the patient chart and updates, always understand how a medicine or an order will help the patient. Explain it to the patient so he/she is aware of how they are going to benefit. Patients want to feel that they matter, and are truly being cared for, and not a number with a to do list. They want to know that everyone being done to them is to get the patient better.
Personally, I have had the opportunity to educate a patient who had a wound for months. It was healing very slowly. As I cared for the patient, I noticed that the protein boost drinks weren’t being consumed. I proceeded by asking the patient why they weren’t consuming it, and took the initiative to help the patient understand how it will benefit them. Once, I took a few minutes to explain the connection between protein, muscle growth, and healing the patient immediately proceeding in taking the protein drink. At that point, the patient understood how they could benefit from drinking the protein drink, and no longer denied the protein drink.
As a (student) nurse, I want my patients to get better. In the story discussed above, I believe I was able to explain to the patient that I want their wound to heal so they could leave the hospital and get back to their life, and in order for that to happen protein must be increased to help the healing and recovery process. I want them to understand that my job is not to complete tasks and orders, but to understand the patients and their current health concerns, and do what I can in my nursing practice to help the patients improve and recover.