Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hospice Nurses Are So Important

Author with Ruth H, one of my first nurse mentors
by Christian Sinclair

As many of you in health care are probably familiar, this week is National Nurse's Week capped by National Nurse's Day on Saturday May 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.  Most health care organizations do small things to recognize the important role nurses fill, but after this week it goes back to the regular grind.

Since completing a hospice and palliative medicine fellowship, I have been privileged to work alongside fantastic nurses who have been wonderful teachers, mentors, clinicians, and leaders.  I am especially reminded because in the past two weeks I have had several interactions with nurses from my past education and work experiences.  These chance meetings reinforced how indebted I am to the many hospice nurses who have helped form my approach to patients and families.

I was the sole fellow at the Hospice and Palliative CareCenter in Winston-Salem NC in 2003-4.  Dr. Dick Stephenson was a exemplary fellowship director, but there was not the luxury of numerous physician faculty many programs have today, so there was a lot of on-the-job training. I loved this experience and would not trade it for anything. By default, my key teachers were the people I worked with every day.  The hospice nurses at the Kate B. Reynolds hospice house, in IDG and traveling around central North Carolina to patients homes were the most experienced and available clinicians. I could ask them so many questions about patient and family communication, medication side effects, wound

As I began to get back into my Pallimed blogging mode, I will work the rest of the year to find more nursing related research, news articles and leadership stories.  Also in a small token of recognition I am making a $100 donation to the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation in honor of National Nurse's Week and I would encourage any other doctors who read this to do the same. I know I am not the only doctor who has been influenced by great hospice and palliative nurses.**

So thank you to Ruth, Becky, Elaine, Tiffany, Sally, Maria, Pat, Michelle, Janet, Melissa, Sue, Karen, Jennifer and many other hospice and palliative nurses who have taught me so many useful things over the years, and have been willing to listen to me spout off about ABHR gel and other esoteric topics.  I am a better physician and a better person because I have worked with all of you.

If you are interested in hospice and palliative nursing, please check out the HPNA (Hospice and Palliative Nurse's Association)

Christian Sinclair, MD is the editor of @Pallimed and a palliative care doctor at the University of Kansas.

*No, the photo has not been Instagram'd, it was scanned from a time when I did not have a digital camera!
**If you email me that you have donated any amount I will update this post to show others how many doctors have participated. You can choose to have Anon, First name only or full name recognition.

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