On October 18 and 19, I was twice a patient in our Emergency Department seeking pain relief from a slowly moving kidney stone. I encountered a number of excellent caregivers in many different roles during my visits. The care I received was efficient, competent and kind. However, one nurse, Karen, stands out above the others, not for what she did, but for how she did it.
Karen started my IV, took my history, gave my medications, found me a warm blanket, explained the plan of care and anticipated my needs, as did other nurses during my visits. What makes Karen an outstanding candidate for a DAISY Award, is the way in which she related to me as a patient.
Karen seemed to understand my discomfort, both the pain and the loss of dignity that is the collateral of kidney stone symptoms. She seemed to relate to my discomfort and loss of control as I found myself in familiar surroundings but in an unfamiliar role, the role of a patient.
I have known Karen since she started working in our hospital, participating in team meetings, planning PDSAs and analyzing data reports. But let’s dispel the myth that it’s easy to empathize with someone you work with and know well. There is considerable evidence to the contrary. To relate to that person who is now behaving quite differently in an unfamiliar role is hard. To enter into a truly caring relationship (loving kindness, enabling, sustaining, sensitive and accepting), as if this person were you, is probably rare. It means accepting your own vulnerability. A true caring relationship requires that openness to being changed (seeing yourself in the person you are caring for). There is no other way. I suppose that’s why Jean Watson says that the caring relationship requires exceptional strength, self knowledge, mindfulness, forgiveness and artistry in the use of self.
Karen has learned and cultivated these qualities and skills. For me, as a patient, that caring relationship made it possible for me to regain self control, dignity and begin to heal. Karen’s healing abilities exemplified for me the Power of the Art and Science of Caring. Please recognize these extraordinary qualities by giving Karen the DAISY Award.