The phenomenon of the nurse-patient relationship and its ability to affect the overall treatment of a patient is a central topic to the study of nursing. The focus is usually on the ability of the nurse to impact the patient, but we often forget how much the patient can impact the nurse.
Adrienne Hayes, a student in the professional nursing degree program at Rasmussen College, experienced the important connection between a patient and a nurse firsthand during her on-site clinical training in 2013.
Inspiration to Become a Nurse
Adrienne Hayes did not always know that she wanted to be a nurse. For the first 20 years of her career she worked as a semitruck driver out of Green Bay, Wis. She found inspiration four years ago after her father suffered a massive heart attack which left him on life support. He had a living will specifying his wish to not have his life prolonged artificially.
The nurse assigned to his case guided Hayes’ family through the difficult process of turning off the machines. She stayed with the family every step of the way, going above and beyond to ensure the family felt as supported as possible. “Her compassion in that situation helped me see that I [wanted] to help others,” Hayes said. “If I can give back just one thing to one family like that, it will be worth it.”
The Importance of Building the Patient Bond
Hayes enrolled part-time at Rasmussen College in 2011, while continuing her full-time job as a semitruck driver. With the support of the campus staff, Hayes decided last July to take a position working the evening shift, enabling her to enroll full-time in the nursing associate degree program at the Green Bay campus.
During her clinical training at the Aurora BayCare Medical Center, Hayes met an unforgettable patient, a fellow semitruck driver who was scheduled to receive a total hip replacement. Although she was technically assigned to the patient in the neighboring bed, the two immediately connected because of their shared career experiences. It was clear after a short time that the two formed a bond similar to the one Hayes experienced with her father’s nurse.
The patient had a great deal of anxiety over the procedure and was fearful for what can be a difficult and time-consuming recovery. When Hayes was visiting her own patient, the truck driver would reach out to her for guidance on pain levels, recovery recommendations, mobility expectations and other areas of concern. Hayes knew from her own experience in the field that hip replacements are a common hazard for truck drivers because of the prevalence of obesity in the field.
Hayes’ ability to relate to the man on a personal and professional level built a bond between the two. She always took the time to answer his questions with patience and understanding. His trust in her helped him through his rehabilitation.
Making a Difference in the Patient Experience
Shortly after the patient checked out of the hospital, William Hartman, nursing dean for the Green Bay campus, interrupted one of Hayes’ classes with the announcement that she had been nominated for the Lily Award from the Aurora BayCare Medical Center. According to Hartman, the Lily Award recognizes role models within the hospital community and is reserved for Aurora BayCare employees that exhibit expertise in the clinical field.
The truck driver wrote: “I was so impressed by the professionalism of Adrienne. She was so caring and compassionate towards me and my family …. She is going to make a great nurse.”
Although students are not eligible to receive Lily Awards, she says the recognition she received from the patient’s nomination was more than enough to prove to herself that she had found her place in the world.
Starting a New Life
The decision to become a nurse means that you will likely one day have the opportunity to make a profound impact on someone’s life. Hayes found that even as a nursing student her work has gone far beyond helping one patient recover from a surgery. She is forging connections that have the ability to change her own life and that of others as well.
Hayes expects to graduate from the ADN program in December 2013. “If I can make that much of a difference as a student nurse, I will only be able to continue to help people as I move forward in my career,” Hayes beamed.