“The most important practical lesson that can be given to nurses is to teach them what to observe - how to observe - what symptoms indicate improvement - what the reverse - which are of importance - which are of none - which are the evidence of neglect - and of what kind of neglect.” - Florence Nightingale
If you’ve never sought medical care, congratulations on being an anomaly. I can remember most of the medical workers based on their level of service while providing healthcare. There’s several types of workers:
Those you have to watch over (questioning the medicine and dose)
The person that hates their job, the time on their feet, the protocol, and the patients
The medical provider who truly cares for people, wanting to see them do the best they can
When I was providing care, I learned quickly to be the latter. Before I even graduated, during my clinicals, I was assigned the patient from hell. I remember the chatter of the senior RNs, and it was collectively agreed upon that the student nurse be assigned this patient. I went into her room and she began to unleash her rage on me. When someone attacks you, especially in the hospital as a patient, it has more to do with them, and less to do with you. So I took it her rage and I let her unleash on me. Soon, the patient would be whisked away to surgery, for a double mastectomy, after her third battle with cancer. I asked the patient if I should find her friends/family to let them know, and that’s when I learned, after her third diagnosis of breast cancer, she was alone, about to undergo one of the worst surgeries a female could have. The patient suddenly softened, and within the hour, I was asked if the doctor allows, would I go into surgery with her, just to watch over. Over the next few days, after each of my shifts, I visited with this once hard-woman, quickly realizing her misplaced anger was actually hurt and we became friends. I brought her food, knitted her a hat, and made an impact to a lonely, sick woman.
How this relates to being a provider
Clients seek out providers for a multitude of reasons, and there is no one-size-fits-all. One thing I’ve learned is that the longer time spent together, the more we can connect. Some clients need a loving physical touch, witty banter, deep conversations with an educated woman, or just to be told you matter. My preference is for longer dates; in fact, I don’t offer shorter dates unless I’m on tour (I may be removing the hour dates from tour in the near future as well). What I’ve found is that it is very difficult to create a solid connection, of what you need, for an hour or less. We need time to learn about each other, and part of that learning process is you getting to know me, and me getting to know and learn your needs.
I think back to that patient from hell and what she taught me. Being a student nurse I was assigned because no one wanted to deal with her. What I learned though, is given time and the chance to get to know someone, you can make an impact on their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Teaching moments and learning take time. Imagine if I walked in the room, got berated, and left without getting to know her. She would’ve went to surgery and recovered alone. The darkest time of her life would be with no one around.
My current and future client-friends need something as well. I hope that I continue increasing the friendships of those I’ve met, as we get to know each other more. For those I haven’t met, I hope that we get the chance to form a bond.
Nothing is more magical than being entrusted by others in life, to be a part of their healing, grieving, and/or celebrating in their accomplishments. Because of my life lesson with this patient, I’m able to bring exactly what you need and when you need it, to our dates. Spending time together is an honor that I don’t take lightly.
That is what nursing taught me and how it shaped me to be a great companion. Be patient. Be kind. Ask questions (without meddling). Be genuine. Provide a service, I can be proud of.