Clinical placements

A nurse’s lesson on the importance of emotional well-being

During an elective placement in Sri Lanka, nursing student Natasha Wragg taught nurses about the importance of building up therapeutic relationships with patients, improving care and increasing her confidence in her abilities

During an elective placement in Sri Lanka, nursing student Natasha Wragg taught nurses about the importance of building up therapeutic relationships with patients, improving care and increasing her confidence in her abilities


Natasha Wragg during her placement in Sri Lanka.

At the end of my second year of training, an elective placement in Colombo, Sri Lanka, taught me a lot about the role of nursing in a completely different culture and environment.

The biggest difference between the nursing role in Sri Lanka and the UK is the attitude towards patients’ emotional well-being, and the therapeutic relationship between nurse and patient and the patient's family.

During a placement in a maternity department, I witnessed a birth for the first time. A mother who was having her first child went into premature labour at 34 weeks. Her baby was delivered within an hour of admission, and as it was unexpected she had no family or friends with her. She was afraid, and it was one of the greatest privileges of my life to be able to support her in her hour of need.

Partnership, intimacy and reciprocity

After the event, I realised that out of the four nurses who had cared for the patient that day I was the only one who knew her name. So that night, using paper and felt-tip pens, I prepared a nursing therapeutics presentation using Muetzel's model of the therapeutic relationship.

This looks at partnership, intimacy and reciprocity. Despite seeming complex, these concepts crossed the language barrier seamlessly as they are, I believe, innate qualities of caring individuals such as nurses.

I delivered the presentation to nurses on four wards, and in the following weeks I witnessed a huge difference in the way the nurses interacted with their patients. This moved me to tears of pride, and I left feeling confident that I had, in my own small way, improved the nursing care delivered to patients who may have previously felt alone or afraid.

Reporting poor practice

I believe that the best way to learn is to teach, and this experience of sharing knowledge with others has forever shaped my practice.

My time in Sri Lanka also improved my interactions with patients and colleagues. I always aim to work collaboratively with more experienced nursing staff to ensure we are delivering quality, patient-centred care.

Our university programme director asks us to have the courage of our convictions. I never really understood the full reach of this statement before my placement in Sri Lanka, but when I had to report an incidence of poor practice in the UK, I realised how much my confidence had grown.

Constructive outcome

I witnessed the complete absence of a therapeutic relationship, to the detriment of the patient's emotional well-being, but when I reported this to a more senior nurse she didn't believe me.

After my positive experience in Sri Lanka, however, I persisted and reached out to my practice education facilitator.

The confidence boost I got from working abroad gave me the courage I needed to escalate my concerns, and rather than the incident going unrecognised and no lessons being learned, a constructive outcome was reached.


Natasha Wragg graduated from the University of Manchester in September 2017 and now works as a staff nurse in ophthalmology at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital

 

 

Reference

Muetzel, P-A. (1988), Therapeutic nursing. In: PEARSON, A (ed) Primary nursing: Nursing in the Burford and Oxford Nursing Development Units. Croom Helm.

 

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