Participatory Caring

By: Sang-Hyun Jeon

Accelerated Nursing Student NYU College of Nursing – Class 2015, December

             The desire to care for another is deeply rooted in human biology, something of an innate virtue. I’d like to think that our Neanderthal ancestors were concerned as much as we are about patient safety. However, it is the dynamic psychology of caring that sets us apart. To positively enter into a patient’s scenario, in our modern times, requires the purposeful interpretation of what it means to provide patient-centered care. This reflection brings me back to the time before I officially started nursing school. What attracted me to initially pursue a degree in psychology is my fascination with observing how the mind interacts with the outward self. Observing is one thing, becoming an active participant is another. And this is what ultimately drew me to nursing – to be an active participant in the caring process.

       I am now in my final semester in an BSN Accelerated program at NYU College of Nursing. Every opportunity I have had in caring for patients continues to validate my sincere desire to care for others. Along the way, I become more aware on how my nursing education is changing me, not just to be more technically competent, but to become a better nurse-person. The trust the patients bestow upon me sustains my confidence that a male person can be very proficient in the caring arts. Do patients make a distinction of how a male or a female nurse cares for them? This is hard to say, not only because patient interactions are unpredictable, but more so because the desire to be cared for and the passion to care cannot be simplified in the dichotomy of genders.

      The characteristics and qualities male nurse should possess to be successful in nursing can be as generic as those seen in nurses’ job description such as to be able to provide safe and quality patient care. But nursing is much larger than that. The gratitude that patients express when they are satisfied with their patient care experience rarely mentions the words “quality” and “safety”. Working with autistic children as a volunteer in New York allowed me to appreciate the value of altruism, particularly since the clients couldn’t verbally express their emotions. But, I derived satisfaction simply for being there and for being of help when needed. I think this is one of the enduring covenants of nursing – to be there (as soon as possible) when needed. Often nurses are summoned to the patient’s room by the call bell. However, better nurses have the magical skill of appearing at the bedside before the patient realizes he or she needs something. An insightful anticipation of the patient or the family’s caring needs is a remarkable quality of any nurse. Compassion will be genuine when the nurse truly allows himself or herself to be in the caring moment with the patient. Perhaps this is easier said than done, in settings where there are conflicting priorities. But I am optimistic that I can rise above the challenges and be a full participant and partner in health care delivery.