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Monica’s Story: Treat Your Patients Like Family

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
05/11/16  2:56 PM PST
Treat your patients

Monica’s Story: Treat Your Patients Like Family

“Treat your patients as if they were a family member.” This is the statement that each and every professor, without fail, declared to the classroom prior to clinicals. It is what resonated throughout my clinical experiences as a nursing student and truthfully, played no significance until the day I witnessed my own family member at the mercy of physicians, nurses, medicine and God.

I have had the title Registered Nurse beside my name for only a short two and a half years. Within that time frame, I have admitted patients and gave my spiel of “Welcome to your hospital room. I will be your nurse for the next 12 hours. Here is your call light. Please notify me if there is anything that I can do for you.” This was my opening statement stated a dozen times in a week’s worth of work. It was as natural as brushing my teeth before bedtime.

Suddenly, my robotic and routine ways of greeting patients had a reality check when I learned that my father’s sister had three weeks of life to live. You see, as a healthcare professional, you get into the habit of overseeing the type of care provided to your own family members when you enter the hospital as a visitor and not on the clock as a Registered Nurse.

“Did they properly sanitize their hands? Are they administering medications when due? Have they repositioned her every two hours? When was her last bolus feeding?” Whenever the bedside nurse made her hourly rounds, my chest would puff, my eyes became hawk-like and I watched every little detail. I felt entitled. As the days went by, I became a familiar face to the unit and the nurses became familiar faces to me. My eyes turned soft, my posture relaxed and my protective instincts dwindled.  My Registered Nurse persona was comfortably placed on hold.

My aunt was weak, deconditioned and almost lifeless. She was discharged home under hospice care where many of my family gathered around her in hopes of a miracle. The hospice nurse made her appearance daily and approached my aunt with such tenderness and compassion. This was the picturesque and textbook moment that made me recognize the type of care every patient deserved to experience and know. Suddenly the cliché and overly used, “treat your patients as if he/she were a family member” no longer felt cliché. It felt necessary, like an unspoken law of being a health care professional.

The week I learned that my aunt had a few days left was the week I came into work with a newer and fresher perspective of my role.

Hospital rooms were no longer just hospital rooms, but rooms filled with anxiety, uncertainty and tension tight enough to be cut with a knife. My robotic opening statements during admissions became replaced with an endearing touch on the shoulder and hearing the concerns and outcries of beloved family members.

Being a healthcare professional has rewarded me with humility. My primary role wasn’t to save a life or sustain it. My role is to understand life’s uncertainty and attend to it with open arms and an open heart.

Special thanks to Nurse Monica for sharing this valuable lesson.

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