For each placement that I go on, whether it is here in Sweden or back home at Salford, I am expected to write up a Significant Event Reflection based on the Gibbs model. For the last two years, I have been completing them without really understanding what “significant event” means, and so have often found myself writing about events that I found interesting or mildly memorable that I believed might be worth sharing. To a point, these are significant events. They stick out compared to everything else that has occurred to me during my placement, but I always felt they were lacking something.
My personal tutor would always give the example of a former student writing about answering the phone, and I understood what she meant but never really thought I found one that fit, until recently. So, I thought I would share my significant event reflection with you, in case you too are struggling to understand what “significant” entails. Mind you, I’m about to start 3rd year, so took me long enough!
Tip #17: A significant event is something that is significant to YOU.
Semester: Year 3 Semester 1 Practice placement: Infection ward, Norrkoping
What is the event I am reflecting on? Towards the middle of my placement on the infection ward, I had started to become more comfortable interacting with patients and overcoming challenges that arose due to a language barrier. This meant that I was more proactive in being involved in patient care, such as administering medication. During one shift, I had gone to a patient with a respiratory condition to provide them with their antibiotics, and tried asking how they felt in Swedish, rather than in English. This lead to the patient stating that they were not feeling well, had difficulty breathing and strong pain down their side. I took the opportunity to sit down by the bed and to listen to what they had to say, and try to comfort them as they started to cry. Although I had gone in to administer medication, it did not feel appropriate to proceed, so I waited for the patient to feel comfortable enough to continue. Before I left, they thanked me for taking the extra time to sit with them and listen even though they were embarrassed that they cried. I reassured them that I understood how it probably feels to them, having been in similar situations and that I would gladly sit with them again if they needed me.
Who was there? My patient and myself.
How did I feel? During the event I felt quite taken aback as I was not expecting the patient to be distressed. However, once I understood why they were distressed, I could relate to their situation having been in similar situations myself. So, despite having gone in to perform a task (administer medication), I felt it was more important to take the time to comfort the patient before continuing as emotional well being is part of holistic care. I know that part of nursing is being able to sit and comfort the patient, as “task-oriented” nursing is not congruent to holistic care, and it is something I try to avoid, however this was the first time that I understood what that meant. It is possible that because I am used to working with children, addressing their needs first is something that I am familiar with doing whereas I have never cared for adult patients prior to my exchange programme, and most patients on this ward will let the nurse complete their task first before asking for their needs to be met.
Has this ever happened to me before? Doing paediatric training, these events do not occur as often as expected in the placements that I had been assigned to previously. When children are upset, the parents are often there to comfort them. I have however, had one previous occasion where a father on the neonatal intensive care unit felt the need to share how he felt about the situation, but did not feel as strongly (externally) as my patient on the infection ward. A few days after this significant event, I had a similar experience with another patient on the ward, who on the contrary was very excited to speak to me as she explained that it allowed her to “exercise her mind to speak in English” and provided a great start to her day.
Discussion with a person supporting your practice (state who). I have discussed this event with my placement mentors and my contact teacher (equivalent to a personal tutor or P.E.F.) during my midpoint assessment for the Linkoping University clinical competencies, as one was regarding to the communication and therapeutic relationship I build with patients. Although, at the time, I felt that the event was significant, I did not feel that I had been able to build the same rapport with all my patients. However, during the evaluation, having spoken to my supervisors, it was brought to my attention that although it may have been with just this one patient, it is the quality not the quantity that mattered. Although I may not have had the same level of rapport with all the patients under my care, we came to the conclusion that, should they have needed the same kind of intervention, I would have given it to them without hesitation.
What would I do differently if the same thing happened again? After the discussion with my supervisors, we came to the conclusion that I would not do anything differently, as I put the patient’s needs first, and the patient appreciated it.
What have I learnt from reflecting on this event? I am capable of providing good nursing care in unfamiliar environments, despite various challenges that may occur (such as language or clinical differences).
What does this mean for your future learning needs? I need to focus on what I do right, as well as what I need to do to improve as both are equally important to my development. It is also important to consider the quality of my nursing practice, in addition to the quantity of opportunities I have to practice my nursing skills.