During internship orientation, we were lectured about optimal patient care, learning how to make each admission experience as smooth as possible. With a high acuity and stressful patient load, nurses often have inadequate time to ensure that patients (and their family members) feel that they have received care that goes above and beyond the call of duty. However, we try to uphold this golden standard, as often as possible.
Reflecting on my internship, one patient care experience stands apart from the rest as an opportunity where my preceptor and I were able to demonstrate “above and beyond” care to a patient and his family. We were in the middle of a relatively busy day shift with a much needed discharge pending on a young boy receiving his first dose of anti-seizure medication, and successfully undergoing an additional three hour observation for side effects. The only thing holding up this discharge process was the boy’s mom, who was worried about the new medication and her son’s newly diagnosed epilepsy. Despite needing to tend to two other patients, my preceptor took extra time to educate not only the patient’s mother and father, but me, about every detail she knew about the drug Keppra. We spent an additional 45 minutes in their room talking through every single concern the boy’s mom had. Watching my preceptor interact with this family really cemented the importance in providing a great patient care experience for not only the patients, but for their family members as well.
Later, when we were preparing the child and his parents for discharge, my preceptor allowed me to pull his IV catheter out of his arm. I was excited, but as the patient was two years old I was a little nervous that he would panic. The situation got worse when I removed the sock covering his IV site and looked at the half-a-roll of tape covering his arm. This may be slightly exaggerated, but with a board, plastic IV cover, and two different types of tape covering one-third of his arm, the poor boy looked like a mummy! It took at least five minutes, four adhesive remover pads, several jokes, and a few “shaking it off” dances (to give the patient a break and to help him feel less restrained by me holding him) before I was able to get almost all of the tape off. The little sliver that was still attached came off as the IV came out of his vein and hand. Honestly, I felt horrible that it took so long to get it out! I apologized to the parents as well as the patient and left the room feeling sad. It wasn’t until an hour later, when the mom stopped us in the hallway before they left, that she told me how amazing I did and how impressed she was that I managed to keep her son calm and entertained with the “shake it off” dancing during the removal. She apologized for taking up so much of our time and gave us each a hug before we said goodbye.
This experience helped me learn that no matter how you feel about a particular interactions with patient, their experiences can be completely different! As nurses, we must provide experiences that show our patients that we care, no matter our stress levels and problems outside of their room. After all, their experiences shape their view of the hospital, as well as their view of health care, in general!
Rebecca Coopie, 2015 Student Nurse Internship Program