I challenge my students on every clinical visit to learn everything possible through observation and interaction with fellow nurses and supervisors. Nurses, new and old, can appreciate and assimilate positive behaviors and styles that we encounter.
Thankfully nurses can also decide how to never behave after witnessing or reading about others' actions with patients.
As a clinical instructor, I carefully observe my students' demeanor and style on the unit. I am actively looking for implementation of The Golden Rule - in every opportunity presented to advocate on behalf of the patients.
My students enter their behavioral health rotation - identifying their anxiety levels, which range from panic / fear to excitement / mildly anxious. I've discovered that nursing has room for all personalities - shy, soft-spoken, funny, engaging, etc.- as long as the patient comes first. I've witnessed joyful moments - when the most reserved students discover their voice when supporting, encouraging, even fighting for their patients. These are beautiful opportunities for the students to gain confidence and belief that they've chosen a profession that thrives on patient - centered care.
Nurses are expected to display Moral Behavior. This requires serious critical thinking about how to treat / advocate for their patients. Traits such as respect, compassion, caring and sensitivity are golden in nursing students - as these traits are more inherent than taught.
Nurses have a responsibility to uphold Ethical Principles in all decisions about patients and actions performed as a licensed nurse - as detailed in the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses.
Plainly stated, all nurses have the right to 'think' anything they choose, yet all nurses have a moral responsibility to practice the same ethical behaviors, including:
From thirty years ago to present day, I can imagine behaving in no other way as a nurse - actually, as a person.
I recently got an email from my friend and writing colleague, Vicki Warner of WarnerWords, who lives in the beautiful surrounds of Sechelt, BC.
Please take a moment to read the article that Vicki shared with me, especially if you are a former student or practicing nurse:
I'm sending this to you because I thought it might be useful info for one of your classes.
B.C.'s College of Registered Nurses has cancelled the registration of a care home director who gained power of attorney over an 86-year-old patient and took the woman's coin collection.
My initial reactions to this tragic story included indignation, anger, and disappointment with the 'nurse' and sadness, protectiveness and heartbreak for the patient - who was betrayed and harmed on many levels. Sadly, every ethical principle outlined above was seriously violated by this individual.
Objectively, I know that nurses are people. And people make the wrong choice every day for a wide variety of reasons.
Whether B.C.'s College of Registered Nurses or the U.S.'s State Board of Nursing (or whatever regulatory body of the profession of nursing exists in your country), all nurses are held to these ethical standards.
In cases where a patient is harmed (including negligence, abuse, etc) or a nurse behaves in a nonprofessional manner (including substance abuse, criminal charges, etc), the consequences range from temporary suspension (accompanied with a remediation plan of action and supervision of same plan) of license to permanent dismissal.
In conclusion and in the lyrics of Michael Jackson..."one bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch". In my experience, I have encountered a few of these 'bad apples' - grateful that they chose to move on from patient care (whether independently or result of State Board decision).
On the contrary, I have encountered and worked with hundreds of nurses over my career that clearly upheld my 'first and foremost' condition of excellence: 'I would choose this nurse to take care of me (or someone I love)'.
Should there come a day when you, as a nurse, cannot apply the Golden Rule, I urge you to immediately re-think your career choice, at least temporarily. If your situation is personal (family, marital, etc), you may need to take a leave of absence until the personal matters are resolved / in decent control.
In moments of clarity, should you realize the patients are not your priority, it's time for a more permanent transfer or change.
At the end of every day, I love being a nurse - whether directly or indirectly through teaching my students to enhance and express their kindness genes. I consider myself grateful and blessed to still love my work and the people I encounter.
Wishing all patient-centered nurses (and students) everywhere a Happy Nurse's Week. If you forget the dates, it doesn't matter...please take every honest opportunity to thank a nurse who has touched your heart through action and presence.
Thanks for sharing this painful example and reminder, dear Vicki of 'how not to behave' with those patients who rely on and trust us so completely. Thanks to my readers for sharing with your circles as well.
Until next week, sending you kindness and self-compassion, mar
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