Nurses Have a Window to Their Patients’ Vulnerability
Ran out of ideas to blog this week, so I’m sharing an insight on vulnerability I learned from several years back.
I’m not practicing as a nurse right now but I consider being a nurse a special privilege. I discovered during my previous stints as a healthcare professional that patients expose their vulnerability whenever they seek professional help about their health. When they expose their bodies to show you a suspicious lump, when they share intimate details about their reproductive health, when they divulge personal experiences to help you assess why their chest hurt just a few minutes ago…
Not everyone gets a front-row seat to that.
The treatment details may get messy, and the situations are rarely as straightforward as the ones you read in a textbook, but I tried to remember especially during really hectic shifts that I was dealing with individuals here. These aren’t just names on a census. These are people with hopes, fears, dreams, setbacks. I’m not saying I was this Mother Teresa in the ward. All I’m saying is that I acknowledge that patients are people.
When you read their patient’s chart (trust me: a person’s medical record gives you clues as to what that person’s life and lifestyle choices are), when you break bad news to them, when you address their underlying worries… there’s a real responsibility to that.
You can honor a person who trusts you enough to open up to you about his/her health concerns by being compassionate.
The word vulnerability, by the way, comes from the Latin root vulnus, which means wound. To be vulnerable means to be capable of being wounded.
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Image from Ken Treloar.
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