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Integrating Strong Emotions as a Developing Nurse

Hui-Wen (Alina) Sato, MSN, MPH, RN, CCRN, is a pediatric intensive care nurse in Southern California and blogs at http://heartofnursing.blog.

Most people, I would venture to say, start off in their profession with a fair degree of idealism, and this certainly holds true for nurses. When I talk with nursing students or new grad nurses and ask their story about why they chose nursing, the most common response runs along the lines of wanting to help others in meaningful ways.

Preparing new nurse grads for nursing realities.

In fact, I will meet with such a group of students this afternoon as I speak on a panel in the ethics class at my nursing alma mater. I, and other colleagues on this panel, want to encourage and inspire. But we will also be telling the students about the challenges we have encountered in situations involving moral distress, ethical dilemmas, and personal burnout. We will present situations when we felt that what we were doing at the bedside was not meaningful because we were only prolonging suffering—or, in other cases, so full of emotion and significance that it felt overwhelming to process.

We want to present the reality of nursing to these students, not to shatter their idealism, but to push them towards meaningful self-awareness from […]

2017-12-08T10:16:46+00:00 December 8th, 2017|Nursing|2 Comments

An Unusual Privilege: A Patient’s Memorable Grace

Jonathan Peter Robb works as a district nurse for the National Health Service in London and has published two essays in AJN‘s Reflections column in recent years, “How I Built a Suit of Armor as a Nurse (and Stayed Human)” and “Verification.”

I was working an evening shift and it was five o’clock when my mobile rang for a call-out. The patient was a woman I’d seen before, who’d been on and off our books for the past few years. She was old, and unwell, and when she last returned home, we were told she was dying. She had been made palliative. Her name was Ruth.

Even with her fluctuating health, Ruth remained incredibly sharp. She was also persistently positive. Ruth was the type of patient you could talk to and forget they were a patient. She asked me questions about myself. Despite the number of people I care for and my enquiries into their health and lives, it is a rare person who asks questions about my life.

I headed out to see Ruth. She was still living at home, her daughter acting […]

2017-12-01T14:06:39+00:00 December 1st, 2017|narratives, Nursing, nursing stories, Patients|3 Comments

Learning New Skills of Supporting One Another as Nurses

Hui-Wen (Alina) Sato, MSN, MPH, RN, CCRN, is a pediatric intensive care nurse in Southern California and blogs at http://heartofnursing.blog. A direct link to her recent TEDx Pasadena Women 2017 talk should soon be available online.

I have had a couple of recent conversations with nurse coworkers who have been close witnesses to patient deaths that were particularly difficult. They told me how challenging it was to process the experiences with fellow nurses—even those whom they considered as good friends—in the hours and days immediately following the patient deaths.

Some conversations in the break room or in carpool rides would go into the medical details surrounding the deaths, but stayed away from discussing personal emotions beyond general statements such as “It was just really sad.”

Other conversations, they told me, were comprised of awkward silence—as opposed to a more intentional therapeutic silence, a deep listening. In both scenarios, my coworkers said they’d felt a lack of quality and depth in these encounters. While they hoped for an opportunity to talk with colleagues, who would surely understand the experience and details better than anyone else, ultimately they felt that they were left to sort out their thoughts and feelings alone.

Even in a unit where we constantly express gratitude for a strong sense of teamwork, my […]

2017-10-20T09:00:54+00:00 October 20th, 2017|Nursing|1 Comment

The Fraught Journeys of Those Fleeing Hurricanes

AJN received this guest post last week, when the effects of Hurricane Irma were still in the headlines, from Kathryn Jackman-Murphy, EdD, MSN, RN, professor of nursing at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Connecticut. The challenges she describes here are not specific to Hurricane Irma—they are faced again and again by those forced from their homes and communities by storms and other natural disasters, and they often happen out of sight of the media.

by patchy patch, via flickr

Right after Hurricane Irma began to hit Florida, I checked in with one of my son’s adult friends. He was searching for a safe landing site for himself and his elderly parents, as his initial plans to stay had been compromised by the hurricane. He was now in Tennessee, with no idea of where they would be able to stay until it was safe to return home. The dad is a Vietnam-era veteran with PTSD, hypertension, and diabetes. The mom also has diabetes and some limitations with mobility related to arthritis and walks with a cane.

How can nurses help?

Watching the devastation in Florida and Texas, I was searching for something to do to help. That’s what nurses do—we help. Being so far away in the Northeast, I felt not only helpless but acutely aware that my world was still intact while […]

Nursing Considerations for Post-Hurricane Hazards

NASA satellite image of Hurricane Irma at peak intensity, Sept. 6, over Virgin Islands

On Sunday, September 10, many of the residents of coastal towns around the state of Florida sought shelter from Hurricane Irma in shelters, and in their homes when shelters reached capacity. Hurricane Harvey relief efforts were still fresh in the minds of the public—and in fact still underway—even as Florida prepared for a projected direct hit of Hurricane Irma and Georgia and South Carolina braced for storm surges and tropical storms.

By Tuesday, the weather system had dissipated and flood waters covered the areas hit by Hurricane Irma, creating environments that present many hazards, some known and others unknown. As other parts of the Southeast feel relief, with restored electricity and Internet and cell phone service restored, some towns that didn’t fare so well are still recovering from the devastation. Recovery may be hampered as we receive news of additional severe storms developing in the Atlantic.

For Florida residents in certain areas, the storm is far from over. Those most vulnerable for health problems in this post-hurricane period include persons with chronic conditions, children, older adults, those living in poverty and those newly impoverished by the hurricane, relief workers and first responders, undocumented immigrants, and […]

2017-09-18T07:50:13+00:00 September 18th, 2017|Nursing, Public health|0 Comments