What Do You See?Our views of patients can be jaded by others. Preconceived notions can taint the way we treat those entrusted to our care.
Julie DeHaan and Pamela K. Friesen are affiliated with the Department of Nursing at Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
DEVOTIONAL: What Do You See?
by Amelia Kramka and Courtney Kay, nursing students at Bethel University
6 a.m. Coffee cup in hand, I jumped into the car with the other students and geared up for another day of clinicals. After meeting with my preceptor, we prepared to get the shift change report. The night nurse reported a “hostile,” “combative,” “uncooperative,” and “angry” patient. As I listened, I was flooded with myriad emotions—animosity, frustration, fear, anxiety, and hesitance. Everything in me wanted to fight against the subjectivity of the report and advocate for the patient. Yet feelings of uneasiness from what was said created doubt about my abilities as a student nurse. Twenty minutes into the shift, I already had formed negative expectations about my patient and was anticipating a rough day.
How many times have you experienced something similar? Our views of patients can be jaded by the subjective data we receive. Entering a situation with preconceived notions taints the way we treat those entrusted to our care. The challenge we have as Christian nurses is to remove the clouded lens that obstructs our ability to see people as God sees them.
Matthew 7:3 (NIV84) states, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” The plank is the judgments we allow to leak into our thoughts. Even if we have difficult patients, we have to make the conscious choice to see them as beloved creations of God. Though we have heard this message multiple times, take a moment to reflect on your experiences. In what ways have you loved God's children in a way that he would? And likewise, how have you let negative viewpoints poison your ability to love unconditionally?
The day I had that patient, my negative expectations were blown away. I was able to laugh with this patient and establish a therapeutic relationship that left me feeling filled and empowered. God's challenge is to look past the judgments and let our heart be led by mercy to live and love each patient passionately.
Walking into the unit I thought that day was going to be difficult, yet walking out of the hospital I felt refreshed, renewed, and thankful I'd caught a glimpse of the beauty God sees when he looks at his children.
Quotes to Shape Our Perspective
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.” — George Washington
“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can read.” — Mark Twain
Life Quotes for Christians. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.christian-at-heart.com/life-quotes.html#.UqiInienGSo
So much of what we see is determined by our perspective. Do you see a jazz player or a woman's face in the picture (Tran, n.d.)? Do you see both? John Lubbock said, “What we see depends mainly on what we look for” (Goodreads, 2013). What do you look for in your patients? Your colleagues? Yourself? Through whose lens are you looking? May our prayer be that we see our patients, our colleagues, and ourselves through our Father's eyes.