7 Powerful Lessons Learned When a Nurse is the Patient

When a nurse is the patient things are different. Roles reverse and the whole situation becomes uncomfortable often for all parties involved. The nurse that is the patient feels helpless while the nurse on duty may feel nervous.

It is often said that nurses make the worst patients. At least I’m in good company because being a patient is a difficult task for me. I’m comfortable with the leadership role. I’m good at being the provider, the organizer, the nurse, but never the patient. But when the diagnosis of a brain tumor stops you dead in your tracks, you have no choice but to become a patient. Then again, I should know better. As Six Until Me and Chronic Babe have already taught me, We Are All Patients. At some point or another you’ll have an experience where the nurse is the patient.

But my stubbornness has told me that I am the nurse. I am to be the caregiver and not the cared for. I am to take care and not be taken care of. I am to heal not be healed.

Or so I thought.

What I’ve learned from my time in the bed and not at the bedside will hopefully aid me in my nursing career and continue to give me compassion for the patients I help serve. There were a few things that I learned that were quite impacting that I will share for with you in and effort to help you identify with and have more patience for your patients.

7 Powerful Lessons Learned When a Nurse is the Patient

  1. When you’re already sick and encumbered, it is quite an insult also to be treated like a child. Give your patients dignity and respect and the ability to make their decisions. Don’t less this confuse you with the need sometimes to be assertive. But adults deserve to make their decisions and no nurse should be attempting to make it for them.
  2. 5 minutes can seem like an eternity when you are in pain, nauseous, need to use the bathroom, or are uncomfortable. Prioritize your patient’s needs, of course, but realize to each patient their problem is an emergency to them. And really they probably don’t care why you were delayed in assisting them, they likely just want an apology and whatever they called you for.7 Powerful Lessons Learned When a Nurse is the Patient - ir?t=thenerdynurse 20&l=as2&o=1&a=B000JQ4QTG
  3. There is no comfortable position in a hospital bed. There are positions that are less awkward for a short period, but nothing that could be considered comfortable for any extended period.
  4. Sleep is precious, and often ill got in a hospital. If you can time your routine to minimize the disturbance of your patient’s sleep routines, they will be thankful.
  5. If you have the opportunity to take care of another nurse, do not think of it as an opportunity to take your time, slack off, or air your frustrations about your other patients, your career, or anything else for that matter. If anything you should use it as an opportunity to shine. Wouldn’t it be excellent for your manager to get a compliment card when you had a nurse as a patient? And wouldn’t it be terrible if you had your nurse-patient fire you?
  6. The call light on the side rail is entirely too easy to hit accidentally. But in contrast, the corded call light and remote are almost impossible to find when you need them.
  7. 7 Powerful Lessons Learned When a Nurse is the Patient - ir?t=thenerdynurse 20&l=as2&o=1&a=B000LNW14E A patient doesn’t get a shift change. There is no hour window where you can not be as sick. You’re sick the entire time you are in the hospital. If you have a good nurse, they prepare their patient’s for shift change and do not leave them to get left in the shuffle. Don’t let admissions at shift change reduce the care that any patient receives.

If you have not had to experience the hospital as a patient, count your blessings. When I learned about being a patient is that we can all stand to be a little bit more thoughtful and considerate. Going forward I’ll be a better nurse because I’ve learned that when a nurse is the patient things that seemed trivial before become paramount.

Put yourself in your patient’s position each and every time you are at the bedside. You may never know when you will be there and you certainly want good karma on your side. Invest more energy into becoming a strong patient advocate. You never know when you’ll be in the same situation and hopeful that your nurse will be a strong advocate for you.

Patient Advocacy Resources

Putting yourself in the position of the patient can help you become a better nurse. But you can get the information you need to advance your patient advocacy from other sources. These books are written from the patient’s perspective and provide insight into their side of the experience. Picking these patient advocacy books up on Amazon will give you the best price and you can have them shipped right to your door.

The Not So Patient Advocate: How to Get the Health Care You Need Without Fear or Frustration

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3 thoughts on “7 Powerful Lessons Learned When a Nurse is the Patient”

  1. Hi Brittany. I worked for several years on a neuro-surgical step-down unit. Brain tumors, strokes and head traumas were our specialty! So sorry to hear about your recent neuro issue, but thanks for seeing the “learning” and “sharing” in your experience. I’m confident that your experiences will help other nurses to do the right thing by their patients. I love this blog in particular – especially with “neuro” patients.

    Thanks for blogging and thanks for being you!


  2. I hope you are doing better Brittney and that good health becomes your constant companion. This was a wonderful and insightful post. Thank you!

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