What Is A Nurse To Do?

Our workplace doesn’t always lend to creating a mindful healing environment. And Hospitals often lack the administrative support and money for building one. It’s not as if one nurse can change a rooted organizational attitude, right?

Actually, Judith Connor would beg to differ. Connor is a clinical matron for Cardiothoracic services at South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust. Throughout their daily duties her fellow nurses found that patients’ nutrition was suffering because of their hospital’s mealtime culture.

In response, Ms Connor championed implementing three principles that encourage patients to eat and drink properly during their hospital stay: protected mealtimes, assisted feeding and a new meal service. This became a success story for the patients, staff and hospital.

Ms Connor’s program mirrored the spirit of the checklist developed by the Institute for Health Care Improvement for improving healing environments. Still, many other nurses and caregivers are limited in implementing their recommendations. Human and material resources are stretched thin in hospitals and clinics around the nation as it is, and no nurse can build a private patient room, or provide wide doors to patients’ bathrooms by him or her self.

Yet, what we learn from Connor’s actions is that as the most immediate contact the patient has when he is under our care, we can make a significant impact focusing on the finer details.

Ask relatives to bring in music that the in-patient enjoys. Be sensitive to cultural practices the patient observes and pass that information to fellow staffers.

When possible, give the patient choices (in lighting, privacy and sound). And always remember the delicate balance between pain-alleviating humor and insensitivity.

Join us on April 18th in our Integrative Nurse Coach® Certificate Program (INCCP) to learn more about how to make these sensitivities a second nature to yourselves and your colleagues.

Share with us, what are small ways in which you take control of the healing environment and make it more pleasant for the patient, and for yourself? Do you remember a small act of kindness that warmed your heart when a person close to you was taken care of by a nurse or caregiver? Small gestures go a long way.



Barbara Dossey, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN, HWNC-BC, is an internationally recognized integrative, holistic nursing pioneer, a nurse theorist (Theory of Integral Nursing; co-author, Theory of Integrative Nurse Coaching), and Florence Nightingale Scholar. She is Co-Director, International Nurse Coach Association (INCA) and Core Faculty, Integrative Nurse Coach® Certificate Program (INCCP), Miami, Florida; International Co-Director, Nightingale Initiative for Global Health (NIGH); and Director of Holistic Nursing Consultants (HNC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has authored or co-authored 25 books including Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice (7th ed., 2016); Nurse Coaching: Integrative Approaches for Health and Wellbeing (2015); The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching: The Provider’s Guide for Coaching Scope and Competencies (2013); Florence Nightingale: Mystic, Visionary, Healer (2010, Commemorative Edition). She is a founding member of the American Holistic Nurses Association and Holistic Nurse of the Year. She is an 11-time recipient of the prestigious American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award, and has received many other awards. Barbara is also on the ANA’s Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation™ Grand Challenge Advisory Board.

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