Telling the Truth, Keeping a Patient’s Trust

“Am I going to be okay?” Ami gasps. Her breath hitches, her chest rising and falling in spasms. One of my hands holds a mask to her face; the other hand holds hers. Pain has made her strong—my fingers are almost as white as her pale face, radiant with fear.

Illustration by McClain Moore for AJN.

Illustration by McClain Moore for AJN.

That’s the start of the Reflections essay in AJN‘s February issue, “Am I Going to Be Okay?” Nurses tell patients ‘it’s going to be okay’ because the words can keep them calm, because no one can tell the future, because it’s comforting to hear ritualized phrases from a caregiver—even when they’re not, strictly speaking, true.

But are there times when more honesty is desirable? The author of this short Reflections essay delves into one such situation where the patient needs, above all, to feel trust for her nurse.

It’s a tough story to read, but vividly explores some fundamental questions about the words we use in dire situations. Reflections essays are free, so click the article title above, and give it a read.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

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

One Comment

  1. Peggy March 17, 2015 at 2:09 am

    Beautifully written, and oh, so true! Thank you for sharing.

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