Written by Daniela Sierra Delgado, UTS Bachelor of Nursing student
Nursing has always taught me to see the person beyond the illness.
In our role as nurses, we have the clinical knowledge to offer the best treatment possible to our patients, but we need to also remember that every patient’s background, culture, needs, values and beliefs are different. Therefore, providing person-centred care, in which the patient is heard, respected, and cared for, is essential.
In my experience, I have seen how nurses care for patients who have many types of diseases, some of them incurable, and how, in addition to fulfilling their clinical responsibilities, they offer comfort, support, and even smiles to help with patients’ well-being.
When I did my first placement, I was more focused on making sure that I was following the right processes to take the patients’ blood pressure or pulse. With time, I have come to the realisation that even though complying with all the clinical requirements is important for patients’ positive outcomes, there are also other essential aspects of being a nurse that help to provide the best care possible for patients and their families; within these are cultural competence, good communication skills and empathy.
I remember a time in the hospital when the ward was not too busy, so I went and said hello to one of the patients. I think I spent 15 minutes with him and the only thing I did was listen to him talking about his life outside the hospital and what he wanted to do when he felt better. The next day, I had the same patient, so when I went to say hello again, he was emotional and told me that he was very thankful because I listened to him.
He explained to me that he did not have much family around, that listening to him made him feel important and encouraged him to continue fighting for his life.
This helped me to be aware that some patients have family who visit them while on hospital, but there are others who do not have that support and the only person they may talk during the day is their nurse.
I will never forget that day; it made me truly understand that the theory we learn during classes about listening and patient-centred care is very important for patients’ recovery and wellbeing.
Given this, I have learned that, to be a good nurse, I need to know the patients and their families, their background, thoughts and emotions, and understand that for some patients, being in hospital can be a scary situation.
Being surrounded by people you have never met before and being exposed to clinical procedures you have never heard of can be very stressful, but we, as nurses and health professionals, who care for patients from when they open their eyes in the morning, until the end of the day, I am sure that we can make a difference in the patients’ lives.