Devotional: Selfless Care
By Katherine M. Batten, BSN, RN, University of South Carolina Upstate 2015 graduate
It only took a few days in nursing school clinicals to realize how demanding this profession is! The high-stress environment, with complex personal and physical needs, can quickly become overwhelming. I felt tempted to focus primarily on completing my own tasks, instead of paying attention to my patients and their needs. In school, we are repeatedly reminded to focus on the patient's needs and wishes. But the reality of the clinical setting makes this difficult!
As Christian nurses, Jesus calls us to take the level of concern we have for ourselves and apply that concern to others. Philippians 2:3-4 states, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (ESV). In application, this meant taking the time at my clinical setting to listen to my patients' concerns and recognize their needs. It meant taking the time to put patient needs before my own.
One day, I had a patient who was bitter about his hospital stay and circumstances. He had a reputation of being difficult to care for. I knew I needed to show compassion, despite my initial desire to choose another patient in order to have an easier day. Throughout the shift, I tried to speak to him in a calming manner and listen to his needs. We spent time talking about his concerns and ways we could make his stay better. Nevertheless, the patient continued to take his frustration out on those caring for him.
To my surprise, when I said goodbye at the end of the clinical shift, this patient expressed thankfulness and appreciation for the care I had provided. This demonstrates the great value of taking extra time or effort to show our patients that we are concerned about them, and we are interested in their well-being, especially the difficult patients.
In truth, that's what Jesus did for us. He took the time to tell us truth, heal people, and lay down his life for us (John 15:13). Although he is the supreme example of this selfless love, as Christian nurses we are called to have compassion in the same way, by providing care to each of our patients that is characterized by acceptance, respect, and genuine concern.
Wanted: Student TXT Submissions
We invite any nursing student or new graduate to write a devotional for Student TXT. We are looking for short selections (400-450 words) that would be meaningful to students in their journey through nursing education or for faculty to share with nursing students. Submit at http://www.editorialmanager.com/ncf-jcn as a “Column.”
Dealing with Difficult Patients
Dealing with the occasional difficult patient is part of being a nurse. Anderson (2015) posted these suggestions:
- Remember the patient's situation.
- Don't just hear what the patient says, listen.
- Be nice. Be caring. Keep your promises.
- Adequately document any relevant events.
- Pay attention if a patient threatens to sue you, the facility, the physician, and the like.
- Seek the assistance of your supervisor.
Christians can add prayer to this list, for our patients and ourselves. Ask the Holy Spirit to provide wisdom and help you be present in your practice. We are called to love each patient as Jesus loved us, even difficult ones. James 1:19-20 tells us, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (NIV). Desire that the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—be evident to those for whom you care (Galatians 5:22-23).