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Reality Unscripted
The Gift of Time

It was my mom's birthday yesterday. She said I gave her the best present she's ever gotten: me for a day.

We hung out in her apartment organizing old family pictures, reminiscing about people and places in our past. We met my brother for lunch and did some more "Do you remember when...?" Funny thing is, my mother, who has Alzheimer's, can't remember most things. Yet she loves hearing us do the remembering for her. More than that, she just loves having us around.

I've been thinking about how easy it was to make her happy yesterday, and realized how applicable the lesson is to nursing. I think the best thing we can give our patients is the sense that they matter to us. Nothing does that better than spending some time with them.

I can hear you all now, yelling into the computer that the last thing you have is time. I get it. But here's the thing. It not only helps your patient, it helps you. There's the poetic way about how they unexpectedly can add value to your, blah, blah, blah. Then there's the way they make you a bona fide better nurse.

By hanging out in their room you might actually notice some labored breathing while they tell you about their kids. You may notice how they keep rubbing their left arm while they regale you with an old war story. You may detect some undiagnosed depression as they tear up telling you about the recent death of a loved one.

It's impossible to be a good (or even adequate) patient advocate if you don't do some socializing with them. We are social creatures. We communicate through conversation. Go have some with your patients tomorrow--and see if it doesn't make you feel like a better nurse. I guarantee your patients will feel like you are.

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5 Responses to “The Gift of Time”

  1. Gigi, LPN Says:

    I am bridging over to RN. Infact I should be writing my English Essay and Micro speech now. But Jana RN, touched a note in me. Depending on where I work, I might have 18 to 30 residents with complex medical issues, including spinal cord injuries, diabetes, respiratory and of course, aging. I get in “trouble” all of the time for being to slow. Get the insulins, pill pass doen, get them to the diningroom, second pill pass, treatments, supervise the CNA’s (thank God for CNA’s)chart, chart, admit, transfer (death is a transfer) and then go home. But everyonce in a moment, I get to make that human to human contact and for one moment out of hours, it feels like I make a difference. I want my RN so I can make a greater impact on geriatric care–unless I decide not to kill myself fighting Goliath and get a job where I have 5 patients–I think about it-LOL. Thanks Jana, Warm Wishes, Gigi, LPN

  2. nursingaround Says:

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Spending time, just sitting and listening is priceless. I remember one ward in a British Hospital, it was a brand new, billion dollar project, but the place was a disaster. I worked there for a few months on the night shift in a surgical ward. The patients never seemed to get better, but not worse either.
    The six ladies in one of my bays never smiled, never spoke to each other. Now without trying to label patients, they looked depressed. I sat down with one women who said that she had been inside for over three weeks without seeing the outdoors. She was mobile, but not nimble enough to navigate the hospital corridors on her own.
    One morning, at 0700hrs, just before I was due to leave, I talked a couple of the assistants to help me wheel several of the ladies out in the beautiful, warm summer morning. The effect was instantaneuos.
    They lit up like candles. They talked, laughed, you could see pleasure written all over their faces.
    Needless to say two of those ladies were discharged within the next few days.
    Time makes difference.

  3. Deb Says:

    I have a close friend that tells me “I’d rather have someones gift of time than all the money they could give me”. I am a home health nurse and have noticed when I spend just a few extra minutes and take time to ask about non-nursing related subjects (i.e., household projects, everyday conversation) my patients light up. Even if you do not have the time, the illusion of more time spent can be created by sitting on the edge of the bed, a simple touch on the foot if you pass by the patient. Little things really mean a lot.

  4. Eileen Fox Says:

    We have a fantastic home health nurse – she comes once/twice a week and always seems to have time for any questions we might have. My husband has several medical problems, and she is just super! What would be a good gift we could give her at Christmas to express how much we appreciate her?

  5. Rafael Says:

    Check your state’s future job needs in hetlah care you can find it on the Web..Ours rates salaries,too. From administration to IT to radiology to nuclear medicine to biomedical engineers. Most hospitals are small cities. Nurses aren’t all in hospital and clinics, either I’ve been a nurse since 1970 and have held positions as varied as a Community Health Educator, Medical Insurance Auditor, Medical Outcome Data Researcher.I’ve also worked in hospitals in Admitting and Triage, Emergency Dept and Critical Care Transfer, Radiology Interventional Therapy, In-Pt and Out-Patient Educator. I’ve worked on Cruise ships, beach vacation clubs and in hospitals near/at ski lodges.There will be a shortage of 250,000 RNs as we baby-boomers retire.I’ve never interviewed for a job before I changed cities and I’ve never been without a job for longer than 5 days when I moved.I graduated with an Associate Degree and added classed toward my Bachelor as grew into my career. I’m 62y/o and It’s still fun!That’s just skimming the surface of opportunities in nursing.

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