“The best ‘thank you’ there is”
It’s not every day that you meet a former patient after his discharge from hospital.
“Emergency can be a thankless job and I’m ok with that because I believe in what we do here,” says Jocelyn Sherk, an ED RN. “But it was such a significant moment for myself and for many of us to meet both patients and learn that what we do here really matters and makes a difference.”
And, that, says Lara Gurney, ED nurse clinician, is precisely why she believes in the Patient Stories Project.
Patient stories ease staff distress
Lara launched the Patient Stories Project last year in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where she then worked as an ICU RN.
“Like the ED, the ICU team cares for some of the sickest patients in the province. We work hard to care for our patients and become emotionally invested in their wellbeing, but we’re often left with questions when they leave us.”
With the support and encouragement of Allana LeBlanc, clinical nurse specialist, and Sophia Goksoyr, social worker, Lara decided to find answers. Former patients were invited to share their inspiring stories of recovery and life after discharge. Their stories and photos are compiled in a book for staff to read at their convenience.
“The stories reveal purpose and the value of our work,” says Lara. “For those days when we’re feeling hopeless, patient stories allow us to glimpse the future we worked so hard — and succeeded — to achieve for previous patients. Sharing patient’s experiences helps ease compassion fatigue, burnout and acknowledge the moral dilemmas staff face every day.”
Nicole Namiranian, ICU RN, agrees. “Critical care nursing can be heart-wrenching. Reading patients’ stories gives me a sense of pride in what my colleagues and I do and acknowledges that our efforts do pay off. When patients and families share their stories, it’s the best ‘thank you’ there is.”
A way for patients to give back
For patients like Bjorn and Mike, meeting with staff is a meaningful way to give back.
“My future, my life were returned to me,” says Mike, who sustained a severe head injury when he was T-boned by a car while cycling. “Sharing my story is the least I could do.”
Bjorn, who suffered a stab wound to the heart, feels the same way. “This is one way I can give back for everything. I owe you guys so much; keep doing what you’re doing,” he says with a broad smile.
“Mike and Bjorn gave us a pretty incredible gift,” says Barb Harvey, ED RN. “By sharing how their lives have unfolded, they’ve shown us how much our work impacts individual lives, as well as their families and friends. They’re perfect examples of why we all do what we do, and why we all feel so lucky to work where we do.”
Do you know of an inspiring patient story?
Have you cared for a patient who’s inspired you? Has a patient or family member returned to thank you or your team? We’d like to know!
Share your story today at VANews@vch.ca.