I am lucky. In nursing school I really had so many great clinical experiences that I learned a lot from. Then I got my first job and felt like I knew nothing and learned a lot of different things there.
After I left that job and started new, I felt like I melded those two learning experiences and then continued to learn, but it a way where I felt stronger than ever in my career.
One of the things that I truly didn't learn until I was strong was speaking with patients and families about palliative care.
Sometimes we need to take the palliative care step before hospice or comfort care. If the patient’s death so close, but doing regular blood sugar checks are of no point anymore, palliative care is now something to look at.
It is hard to educate people on palliative/hospice care. I talk about how our goal of care and if it is quality or quantity. Family members often do not want to hear this. And I get it. It isn't easy. Then throw into the mix that certain religious or racial reasonings can impact whether someone would or would not consider palliative care.
I will always present it. It may be hard for someone to take it, but I am an advocate for the patient and even if the family or patient responds negatively to the information, I am okay with that. My opinion doesn't matter but the information needs to be there.
As a nurse, your tone changes from recovery to comfort. This does not mean we are giving up, this is not bad. I feel like I am in a more comforting, supportive, reassuring role. I realized in these instances it is okay to hug your patient or their family member. Reassure them. Be their go-to person. They are going to need it.
I have done what my patients need, whether that is listening to them rant, pray with them, get them a chaplain, etc...If you feel comfortable and so does the patient, by all means, go ahead!
Palliative care is never comfortable for the nurses or families, but open dialogue is what is best for the patient.
Have you ever had to discuss or discussed palliative care?
What are some of your fears associated with death?