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The International Year of the Nurse and Midwife

Celebrating Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses

Hear from APHON Nurses why they do what they do.

Pediatric Hem/Onc Nurses Have a Global Impact

Meet Valeria Rangel Rodriguez, one of the three 2019 International Scholarship recipients. Valeria is from Queretaro, Mexico, and works at the Hospital Infantil Teleton de Oncologia.
After the conference, Valeria shared with us the impact the APHON Annual Conference had. She shared what she learned, what the scholarship meant to her and how this experience will impact her hospital and country.

 

My Most Memorable Experience

K BroylesKathleen Broyles, MSN RN CPN CPHON®
Shared her most memorable experience as a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse in the 2019 Fall issue of APHON Counts.

Very early in my nursing career, I remember sitting at the bedside with Christina, a teenager post–stem cell transplant with prolonged hospitalization. We talked about her treatment struggles.
Then we talked about life outside the hospital walls: soccer, knitting, parents, and boys. As I was leaving, she said to me, “Thanks so much for talking with me. I know you’re usually very busy.” Later, as I reflected on her words, I realized they had significant meaning. Without saying the words, she was telling me, “You don’t usually have time for me.” 

Her perception was mind-opening and by no means my intent. I took this conversation to heart and have carried it with me throughout my nursing career. Although qualities such as ambition, quality, and efficiency drive my practice, I sometimes have to remind my heart to override my mind. Every patient I take care of should feel like they are the most important patient in the unit—important as a person, not just a patient. 

Fast forward 2 decades, and I find myself spending less time at the bedside and more time helping mold the nurses of tomorrow. We live in a busy world with technology that makes communication almost instant. Patient volume and acuity is increasing while nursing resources seem to be dwindling. Advances in technology enhance our ability to connect to people, yet they inhibit our ability to connect with people. We are forced to persistently multitask. Multitasking is switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50% (Cain, 2012).

Recently, I was in charge when a patient’s mother asked to speak with me. She felt like her nurse was nice but distracted. She said, “I know Katherine doesn’t have cancer but...” WOW! Those are powerful words. A diagnosis should never define a patient or their sense of importance. No nurse ever intends to make a patient or family feel this way. My heart sank to the floor as I had flashes of leaving Christina’s room 2 decades earlier. In our world of chaos and deadlines, we must be intentional in our words and actions and create an environment where all patients feel valued. 

Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, nonjudgmentally, in the present moment (Horner, Piercy, Eure, & Woodard, 2014). It’s about being aware of what you are doing. Did you ever drive home from work and not remember the drive? Or hang a medication and not remember programming the pump? This is not mindfulness. Think about how patients and families must feel when nurses are operating this way. When you glance at your phone to see who has texted, even if you don’t reply, you’ve taken your attention away from that patient, indicating that they are not your main focus. When you are constantly on your phone within a patient view, even if it is work-related, the family perception may be that of disengagement. 

So, next time you find yourself in a moment of chaos and confusion or on autopilot, take a moment to be in the present. Walk into Christina’s room and sit with her; get to know her as a person. Remember why you became a nurse. Remove distractions, such as instant notifications, phones, and pagers. Be thankful. Be humble. Be present! We must be mindful of our words and actions so that all of our multitasking does not deter from the patient experience. Every patient should feel that they are important, valued, cared for, and cared about. 

With just a few words, Christina had a profound influence on me personally and professionally. Even as we attempt to care for and educate our patients, often they become the teachers. To absorb what it is they have to tell us, we must be present and we must be mindful. I can only hope that I had a portion of the effect on Christina’s life that she had on mine.

References

Cain, S. (2012). Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. New York, NY: Broadway Books.

Horner, J. K., Piercy, B. S., Eure, L., & Woodard, E. K. (2014). A pilot study to evaluate mindfulness as a strategy to improve inpatient nurse and patient experiences. Applied Nursing Research,
27(3), 198–201.

Share Your Story

We'd love to hear about your experiences as a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse. Our nurses impact the field and we'd love to highlight you in this year of celebration for nurses worldwide. 
We'd love to feature the work you do!

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