Clinical placements

Sharing common interests helped to lift a cancer patient’s spirits

A main theme of my university course is that no matter what task you are engaged in as a nurse, you must always do it in a caring and compassionate way.

A main theme of my university course is that no matter what task you are engaged in as a nurse, you must always do it in a caring and compassionate way.

As nursing students, we are taught to try to make every patient feel individual, regardless of the constraints of time and staffing. It does not take much to introduce and present yourself to a patient in a caring and empathic manner.

In my first year, I had a placement in the community with the district nursing team. We went to see one patient who was diagnosed with cancer and who required palliative care. Over the course of the placement, I got to see how a condition can affect a patient’s day-to-day life completely, and how it can change their mood and behaviour.

The patient was a lovely man, and he was always bright and bubbly, but he soon became quiet and isolated. Staff began to think he was becoming depressed.

I sat with him one day, trying desperately to find something we might have in common so that I could spark a conversation. I soon learned that he had once served in the British army and was proud of his service. I told him that I too was a serving army reservist, and as we began to talk about everything to do with the army, I saw him laugh for the first time in more than a month.

From that day on, every time I called at his house he seemed excited to see me, telling me more stories from the days when he served. Before he was admitted to hospital he wished me all the best in my future army career, and told me that I had made a difference over the past few weeks.

 

 

 

My experience with this patient had a greater effect on my practice than I would ever have believed possible. I came to realise, for example, that nursing is never about how fast you can complete a procedure, but about building relationships with the people you are caring for.

 

 

 

This man helped me to understand that you should always make time to talk to your patients and treat them in the same way that you would like to be treated. No matter how well a task is carried out, it will mean nothing to the person if you are not caring and compassionate.

 

 

 

I found common ground with this man because I tried to start a conversation with him. The result was that we were both equal in his eyes. It seemed that if he could concentrate on that one part of his life it would bring back a little happiness and joy.

 

 

 

I now try to remember that lesson with every person I meet in my nursing career – that I can help them find some happiness – and I feel privileged to be in a position where I have the opportunity to meet such truly amazing people.

 

 

 

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