Saturday, February 3, 2007

The power of the initials "RN"

I want to share the following message I received from a registered nurse:

I just finished reading your letter[1] and felt compelled to write. My mother…has also been ill and entering her third week in hospital care. She had an MI[2] three weeks ago. Since then my sister and I have learned a lot. But for myself, as a medical professional and an RN, the lessons have been invaluable and worth passing on.

I learned the power of the initials "RN" that I have taken for granted for 25 years.

I learned it is important to proudly say, “I am the RN taking care of you today, and if you have any concerns or questions, I am the person you can come to today.”

This statement is a simple one, but could have saved so much time and confusion. I never knew who was who. I asked questions over and over to the wrong people, mixed with painful emotions, and the lack of slack of sleep and energy did nothing but build anxiety.

It would have been so simple to have known at the beginning of each day...who could answer our questions or at least steer us in the right direction.

We learned many other things along the way, but this I felt was the most simple and a good one to pass on to my colleagues….

We grow as professionals when we see our world through the eyes of patients and family members.

The writer gave me permission to print her letter without her name. I thank her for her personal and important message.

[1] On January 27 I wrote: “Two of my relatives were hospitalized in the last two months, and their experiences reminded me how different is the hospital world that a patient experiences from the hospital world we see every day as caregivers. What is obvious or routine to caregivers may be invisible or incomprehensible to patients. They don’t understand our language. They don’t share our mental map that readily understands the relationships among attending and consulting doctors, charge nurses and discharge planners, therapists, and service staff.” (See “Stop me if I say something you don’t understand,” January 27, 2007.)

[2] "MI" is myocardial infarction, a heart attack.