The experience that significantly influenced my practice as a nurse was dealing with a patient who was expecting their inevitable passing as well as their family who had to overcome the grief and the struggle of knowing that their loved one will soon be gone. The family wanted to do everything they could to improve the patient’s stay at the hospital, and the latter felt at peace when his son and wife came to visit. However, as COVID-19 broke out, severe restrictions were placed on hospital visits, which meant that the family could no longer be allowed. I decided to step up and become the patient’s visitor and companion to ensure that he received the necessary level of support and human interaction, which turned out to be crucial in his case.
The situation could be analyzed from the standpoint of three patterns from Carper’s ways of knowing, such as personal, ethical, and aesthetic (Garrett & Cutting, 2015). The personal pattern calls for deriving nursing experience, knowledge, and attitudes from emotional empathy and self-understanding (Garrett & Cutting, 2015), which is often concerned with imagining oneself in the position of the patient. I thought about the hypothetical scenario in which I was terminally ill, but my family was not allowed to visit. I would have also wished someone, anyone, to spend some time with me, talk, and offer a supportive shoulder. Putting myself in the patient’s shoes prompted the decision to provide some companionship to the patient. Thus, personal knowing allowed for the establishment of an authentic and therapeutic relationship with the patient and improved the quality of care with the help of integrity and wholeness.
Ethical knowing allows nurses to develop their own moral codes and the sense of knowing what is right and what is wrong. Considering the obligation of nursing professionals to protect and respect the life of their patients, the deliberate actions are expected to align with the Code of Ethics for Nurses that helps develop a moral code (Green, 2018). Although the situation with the patient was complicated, the goal of improving care quality and patient well=being came at the forefront. Through offering support and guidance to a patient awaiting his death, I acted in accordance with the nurses’ code of ethics, becoming the person who was the closest to the individual at the most challenging time in his life.
Finally, aesthetic knowing approaches nursing as an “art,” thus taking all of the other ways of knowing and creating a new understanding of a situation (Henry, 2018). Because nursing is a holistic and human discipline, it was essential to ensure that the patient’s care was as smooth and stress-free as possible to provide a peaceful environment in which he would feel safe. This way of knowledge allowed me to look deeper into the problem of visitors not being allowed at the hospital and come to a solution of becoming the visitor. This decision was highly beneficial to the patient who was left on his own, thinking about the upcoming death. Instead, becoming a ‘guardian angel’ for some time made me as a nurse proud of the care that we offer and strengthen the overall connection to the nursing practice and its unique ways. Overall, the situation allowed me as a nurse to understand that patients need support from their families. When there is no such opportunity, nurses should step up and become the critical support systems for their patients at hospitals.
Garrett, B. M., & Cutting, R. L. (2015). Ways of knowing: realism, non-realism, nominalism and a typology revisited with a counter perspective for nursing science. Nursing Inquiry, 22(2), 95-105.
Green, C. (2018). A philosophical model of the nature of nursing. Nursing Research, 67, 93-98.
Henry, D. (2018). Rediscovering the art of nursing to enhance nursing practice. Nursing Science Quarterly, 31, 47-54.