So we have a series of questions we have to answer for class in regards to our community rotation this quarter. My rotation happens to be at the Omak Clinic in oncology. My first day was Tuesday and left a great impression on me. The question I had to answer for our online discussion board was, "In your setting, how does the nurse-patient relationship differ from that you've experienced in the hospital setting?" Here is my reply:
My community rotation is being spent at Omak Clinic in the oncology department. The relationship between nurse and pt is unlike any I have encountered in the last two years. It is not even comparable to the relations caregivers and residents have at the assisted livings. Here, these nurses are shining and repairing the armor the patients wear as they fight the battle of their lives. The nurse is the trusted squire that the warrior leans on and who discloses their most intimate battle scars to. It is incredible to witness, but I find myself holding my breath in fear. Is this relationship appropriate, all this talk about their family and dogs? Are these nurses at greater risk for attachment to their patients? Could this attachment skew the patient/nurse relation boundaries? These nurses know their patients baseline, they know what their allergies are, what antihypertensive their taking, how old their daughters are, whether or not their spouse snores, how often they are nauseated, whether or not cheese nauseates them… you get the picture. People can be on chemo for weeks on end, and following relentless relapses- I see that it is inevitable for nurses to not become invested. But, what happens when that investment bottoms out? Someone dies. This patient-nurse relationship is like no other I have encountered, the proof lies in the picture of little Parker Brown that is taped up in the nurses’ station. Parker died a month ago (as many know from the obituary) but, the relationship the oncology nurses shared with him live on in their hearts and compassionate practice. The relationship is a fine balance of intimacy, and professional distance. It’s fated, to spend so many hours with someone and not get to know them- enjoy them. I have concluded that to be an oncology nurse is to walk a very fine rope above a pool of blind love and compassion and cool distance with stark professionalism.