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What can nurses do to better help you?

Posts: 62
Joined: Feb 2004

I am an RN student and I would like to know what the nurses who care for you could do to better help you? I'm anxious to get your feedback! Please reply!

jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi there,
What a timely question for me!! I am a nurse for 30 yrs now, worked mainly in mental health and now in dementia care. My recent surgery (hemicolectomy) and now chemo have put me at the mercy of health care providers, and it's true what they say about doctors and nurses making the worst patients! I do a lot of staff training, particularly about compassionate communication. I felt that some nurses, often, I'm sorry to say, the more experienced nurses, seemed jaded in their approach and at times a bit too quick to be talking about themselves rather that focusing on the patient. I did encounter a few true gems in the hospital, and a student nurse assigned to me on my first pre-op day was an angel, hope she can keep it up!
I just switched oncologists offices, and am writing a letter to my former MD to describe my experiences at his office. The nurses who did the chemo infusions did not seem part interested in their patients. I had chemo on Friday afternoons, and I'm sure everyone was eager for the week to be over. The little things that they did not do....like never greeting me by name, not acknowlegding patients as we came in to take a seat after lab work, focusing on the tasks (which vein to use) without really bothering to connect personnally left me feeling more alone with this than I cared to be. One nurse did a major part of my infusion without any interaction at all.
The good news is that the nurse practitioner in the office was wonderful, and facilitated the change to another office. It saddened me to see the missed opportunities to touch peoples lives in a positive way. It is certainly not the type of care we strive to give in my nursing home. It seems ironic to me that nursing homes have such bad reps and oncology clinics seem to have such positive ones. I truely hope my experience was an isolated one, and I'm sorry for all the patients waiting in silence for more human contact at my previous onc's office. Whew....hope this helps you, but I feel better getting it off my chest. Judy

kerry's picture
Posts: 1317
Joined: Jan 2003

You are so right Judy. Just a little kindness goes a long way for a cancer patient. Compassion, kindness and respect from the medical staff can heal a lot of pain. My nurses were a bit aloof at first but warmed up as the 6 months progressed. The most caring ones were the ones that took my blood, they were fabulous and we always laughed and talked. I think oncology medical personnel are afraid of getting too attached to patients they think will die, but those patients need it the most and there will be a special place in heaven for those in the medical field who finally realize that a big part of medicine is the compassion.

To the nursing student, (my daughter is also a nursing student)- stay tuned in to the patient. Unfortunately your job is not just a "regular" job and a lot of emotional effort goes into it besides your technical expertise. Horray for all the good nurses - we need more!!


Posts: 62
Joined: Feb 2004

Thank you so much for your advice. I do want to be a good nurse and I know that a large part of it is the human connection not just the procedures. Compassion is so important! Best wishes for you! If you have any questions of me, please ask!

Posts: 62
Joined: Feb 2004

Wow, what insight. Your reply reminds me of a movie called "Doctor". It is about an insensitive doctor who gets throat cancer and is suddenly the patient and subject to his own "medicine". Good show. Thank you for your wonderful insight. I wish you the best!

cmcl's picture
Posts: 79
Joined: Jan 2004

I had a very positive experience with the nurses at the office and the hospital where I received my treatments. "The girls", as everyone refered to them, at the hospital were very in tune with my personal needs. They knew what meds I always used and were very compassionate. They were also a riot. They could have done a stand up routine. They knew all the members of my family who came to sit with me during treatments, always greeted me by name. Although the situation was not something you would want to be in, it really couldn't have been a better experience.
Good luck

Posts: 232
Joined: Apr 2003

How great of you to ask about what things would help us out. I have had, without exception good to fantastic nurses through 2 surgeries with 3.5 wks of hospitalization, 12 mth of chemo and 16 wks of TPN.

As others have mentioned, having someone who takes that little bit of time to find out how you are really doing, as well as explaining what, how and why they are going to do things means so very much .

Skill at doing procedures is not to be downplayed however. I have some medical background and appreciated the efficiency as well as careful attention to sterile technique, and the knowledge of the nuances of handling TPN that my infusion nurse had. I appreciated the fact that none took anything for granted. They were thorough in their assessments.

Be a patient advocate. Although I respected my medical oncologist a great deal, it was my nurse who saw me weekly at home, who suggested TPN when I was losing weight despite how hard I really was working to try to eat.

You have the opportunity to have such a positive impact on a lot of lives. Best wishes in your chosen career.


kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hull kitchell--nice of you to be so concerned.I come from OZ and have had a great experience with my onc. and my clinic nurses.The moment I went to my first chemo session the gals --and guys were great!They always each session spent time to enquire after my health/side effects and always asked if there was any extra meds. I may need.The clinic is in a major Adelaide hospital here in South Australia and one felt as though they are one big family.
In fact when I finished my chemo I left with tears in my eyes, sad to go although gratefull it was over.(now no smart comments ladies n gents!--you know how sensitive kanga is---he he)
I was so impressed with the help they gave me that I left them a huge bag of goodies--"they are probably still munchin'"
OK--they have a lot of work to do but never did I hear a coarse word inthe clinic--they just made time to treat us all great--they were our "angels"===I will never forget them!
A little luv and support goes a long way Kitchell and you will receive the benefits of "giving" back tenfold!
I once asked one of my nurses how she could possibly treat us , knowing some would die and still keep a cheerfull smile on her face and come to work each day knowing a patient may never return.
Do you know what she said?
quote=="I am here to give all the best treatment and support I can--BUT--it is knowing I am helping to either save someones life or prolong their life that helps me get through the day"
What a wonderfull thought!!!!
best regards kanga and jen

Posts: 62
Joined: Feb 2004

Thank you for your reply! I'm glad that you were so well taken care of, both physically and emotionally. I wish you well for your future!

Posts: 62
Joined: Feb 2004

It is good to hear that you have had good experiences with nurses. I want to be the kind of nurse you spoke about and I hope I may never cause a persons treatment experience to be negative. Thank you and best wishes!

nanuk's picture
Posts: 1362
Joined: Dec 2003

I think we are all different in our needs, and the
common thread in all the responses is genuine caring
and consideration of individual patient needs. A nurse is the front line, and sees and talks to the patient more than the doctor. It is frustrating to be treated as an object rather than a person, and
I suppose everyone is fighting a hard battle of some kind, but a little TLC goes a long way-some of us need more than others.. Bud

Posts: 62
Joined: Feb 2004

Thank you for taking the time to share some of your insight with me. I will remember what you said! Best wishes to you!

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