A Nursing Student Learns the Trick of Reassurance

NovemberReflectionsI wasn’t sure why Mary Sue was in long-term care, but I could tell she had dementia. She spent most of her time in a recliner near the nurse’s station, asking anyone who walked by why she couldn’t go back to bed.

“It isn’t time yet, Mary Sue,” the staff would reply. I asked one of the nurses why they didn’t just take her back to bed. “When we do,” she told me, “she asks to return to the chair. Out here we can keep an eye on her. She can look out the window. She smiles more often.”

But I had yet to see a smile. This was my first rotation as a nursing student, and I tried to use techniques I’d read about to distract Mary Sue: towel folding, cards, books. But she remained on target, reaching out to me and repeating her request with a distraught look on her face. . .

Read the rest of the November Reflections essay,  written by a nurse looking back on her first nursing school rotation five years ago. The basic human need for reassurance is shared by all of us, whether we are patients or providers. What do you do to stay centered during the day, to remind yourself of your own value, to focus on what really matters . . . or just to stay in the game?

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

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