• How can we nurses do better?

    Asked by MissNurse on Thursday, November 17, 2011

    How can we nurses do better?

    Hello, friends. I hope you don't mind me visiting your forum. Neither I nor a loved one are struggling with cancer at this time, however I'm a student nurse studying cancer and cancer therapy. It is wonderful to read your stories and see the personal, not the textbook, side of it. What do you think it's important for a nurse to know when caring for people who are dealing with cancer? What can a nurse do to give better help?

    11 Answers from the Community

    11 answers
    • fulto11's Avatar

      Nice to see you on board. I would think; the biggest plus is what you will learn by hearing the personal stories (as you stated). I have only gotten angry twice and each one was a nurse giving me false information. Like I told the first one, "We are hungry to hear what you say. We stand on your every word out of fear. You become our life-line for news. Being blind sided at every turn is hard to take; but worst is when we get wrong information." I was very kind, but she could see my anger. I half apologized and told her that I felt it was my place to correct her...so she would not make that mistake again. If we say nothing...what can be learned? The second time I was told (twice) that a prescription for ensure was turned in (by the nurse) and found out two days ago (after waiting 2 wks.) that it never was turned in.
      Let me reassure you. The whole staff is the most wonderful, compassionate group of people that one could meet. I am not a negative person. I so honor these people for what they do. I am humble before them.
      Would love to see you pop your head up, once in a while, to say hello. Good to hear from you.

      almost 5 years ago
    • Jess' Avatar

      Miss Nurse: I want to say welcome to the forum. As the primary care giver to my wife and breast cancer patient, and myself a kidney cancer patient, I want to say that the nurses are our first line of communication and source for information. We understand you are busy and probally overloaded with patients. However we are worried, confused, and scared. Dont act like our questions are an invasion of a highly secretive society. Our Treatments are strange and a bit frightening to us, so be patient and a bit understanding when we become inquisitive, and remember you are our main connection to our treatments. You will see these treatments on a daily basis, and see the reactions they cause. We are hungry for information. Going thru this we see our loved ones get sick, have emotional reactions, and change daily. So dont treat us like intruders,and try and remember we are care givers too.

      almost 5 years ago
    • CarolLHRN's Avatar

      Miss Nurse,
      I am a nurse myself, though I no longer practice bedside nursing. I see nurses as an important part of the treatment team. In fact, I asked my doctor once about showering and he said he hadn't a clue and referred me to his team of nurses.

      My advice is to always treat the entire patient, and not just the cancer. When I was receiving my first chemo treatment, there were lot of errors made and some tension between my family and the head nurse. While all this is going on, I'm in tears about starting chemo and I hate conflict. Instead of the nurse waiting for things to settle down, or to even ask me if I was ready, she just started the chemo. I felt like all she knew was the chemo and she didn't know me. It was obvious I was in distress with the tears.

      I believe that surviving cancer is more than just the surgery, chemo, and radiation. Your mental state, nutrition, exercise and support system are equally as important. A good nurse understands this and supports the patients have a balance, and not just the doctor's orders being followed.

      almost 5 years ago
    • stillkickin's Avatar

      Based on my own personal experiences, I would have to say that one thing nurses should do that would help patients tremendously is to LISTEN to them. I was often treated like a total idiot, and when I was trying to get an answer to what I felt was an important question, I was frequently given the brush-off. It's difficult enough to go through what so many of us cancer patients do while in the hospital, but it is made so much more difficult when you're treated like a room number, and not a patient. Just my 2 cents....

      almost 5 years ago
    • Elizabeth's Avatar

      I like it when the nurses smile and talk to their patient. They should also trust their patients. Maybe you could have a stack of puzzles (Sudoku or fill ins) for your patients if they would like one. When I was 15 I was transported to Wolfsan's Children's Hospital as Emergent Care and the nurse brought me a puzzle to keep me occupied because my family (except my dad he flew with me while my mom stayed with my sisters) and friends were overseas. It made me happy, I even got hooked on Sudoku! Little things like that made me feel special.

      almost 5 years ago
    • danellsar's Avatar

      The two best nurses we've had so far have been huge patient treatment advocates. They've caught things the doctors either missed or didn't see as a problem. For example, at the beginning of chemo, my husband had been prescribed a tylenol-based narcotic pain medication. The oncology nurse raised a humongous fuss because of the liver damage already done by the cancer, and got the doctor to immediately change the class of pain meds. I'd been asking doctors abut the pain meds for weeks, but this one nurse got things CHANGED in an hour. :-)

      The other one was an inpatient oncology nurse, and he spent the whole night talking, laughing, telling jokes, and getting to know my husband and I. Then, in the morning, he sent a very strong note to the doctors' team about ways they should change treatment protocols to help our family. And they did!!!! Again, stuff I'd been asking about for weeks happened in hours because of these great nurses.

      So, be kind, see your patients as humans, and advocate advocate advocate for the highest level of care!!!

      almost 5 years ago
    • Indyeastside's Avatar

      Thanks for asking. First and foremost-care about us as you would a close family member, we are scared, somewhat grumpy, in search of truth-not a lot of cliches. Humor is good.

      A smile goes a long way with some encouragement.

      We know the medical end pretty good these days-- compliments of the internet--so just be honest about the treatment and its side effects.

      But most important to me treat me as a human not your next stick and empty seat.

      I have been fortunate and have some really good nurses, but I try to treat them with respect as well and remember they are pretty busy with todays get em in and get em out approach (jiffy lube) hospitals. Good luck-you will do very well I think.

      almost 5 years ago
    • billwebster's Avatar

      I agree with most of what is stated above. Of primary interest to me, (#1) is being treated like YOU actually care. Most nurses do, but there are some that act as if they're doing their patients a favor, and don't even make eye contact.
      (#2) Be gentle
      (#3) Don't assume we understand all of the technical jargon
      (#4) When giving instructions, try to make sure we understand

      My primary caregiver, is a former labor/delivery nurse (now teaching), and is my primary caregiver. Without her translating the medical stuff, I'd be lost and scared.
      The fact that you even asked the question shows me the type of person you are, and I bet you're a great nurse too!

      almost 5 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      My biggest complaint with nurses is those who act like we are an inconvenience in them finishing their shift and going home. If you are not willing to act like we as patients are the most important thing in your life for that short period, or if working your shift makes you grumpy, ill tempered, etc....get a new job. One huge peve is to sit down for treatment, the nurse gets real close and all I smell is a Camel no filter. If you still smoke while giving cancer treatments, I just don't understand, but if you must, please make sure the patients don't smell you. After 23 years I still have two smells that trigger my mind and I go right back to the treatment chair. We are sensitive to smell, some of us, so please help. On the other side, 99% of my nurses have been great and I thank them for their service.

      almost 5 years ago
    • emtp12's Avatar

      I would echo the majority of what my peers have said. I had a nurse at a cancer center turn and walk away as I was explaining to her the reason for my agitation, (an extended wait time on my very first visit). One thing I might add is that family is a huge part of the equation, and they deserve the same respect as the patient, meaning involve them in the talks and the care. They live with this every bit as much as the patient without alot of the support sometimes. When I had my surgery to remove a portion of my colon, while I was still heavily medicated, they forced my wife to sleep in the waiting room for three nights. When the weekend crew came in it was a completely different attitude, they let her stay in the room, offered food and drink, and were overall much more accomodating, which in turn relieved a majority of my worries.

      almost 5 years ago
    • chloeblake's Avatar

      Being an attentive, compassionate, down-to-earth, thoughtful human being is comforting to patients and their families.

      about 3 years ago

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