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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Elements of a Great Nurse

One of the things that I feel completely ambivalent about is the patient's evaluation of their hospital experience.  On the one hand, it is critical that health care as we move forward be transparent and inclusive of the patient and what is important to them.  On the other hand, asking very sick people to evaluate the care they got in the hospital can invite some very harsh words that are often undeserved.

That said, I feel compelled to write about the incredible people I have had care for me at the bedside this past couple of months.  I have had two prolongs hospitalizations and several shorter ones, and while I have been frustrated at times, most of it has to do with the inpatient pharmacy and the speed with which relief offering medications come.

The things that have been inspirational for me as a health care provider is the gentle balance that nurses have to strike between being educators, cheerleaders, disciplinarians, and dispensers of empathy and compassion.  Many a nurse has shared a personal or family story in order to help me get through a difficult decision or attitude adjustment.  In mental health, we use this judiciously but effectively, and I saw nurses on non-mental health floors using this technique routinely.  I was also impressed with the timing of the help I received.  One of the crucial aspects of sharing experiences is that it has to be done when the patient is ready to hear it, and many a therapist  struggles with this.  The right message at the wrong time is essentially the wrong message.  Nurses caring for me have done this deftly.  Which is not to say that I am happy to need this help, I am not, but I am definitely comforted by it.

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