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What Nursing Means at Riggs - Part 2

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Austen Riggs held a blog competition among staff members where we asked them to write about what nursing means at Riggs. This is winning blog number two, written by Carol Bersaw, Staff Nurse.

Carol Bersaw is a Staff Nurse at the Austen Riggs CenterNursing care at Riggs allows me to provide care in a unique way, which makes my work very rewarding. As in most health care facilities, the nurse provides perfunctory duties: dispensing prescribed medications, monitoring vital signs, developing and implementing care plans. However, there is another facet to the nursing role at Riggs and that is the provision of care in a “holistic” and personalized way. I care for the patients’ physical needs, but also support their emotional and psychological needs. The care is individualized and focused on what patients identify with me that they find helpful on an everyday basis and during times when they are struggling more. Nursing has a framework in working with patients that acts as a tool to provide individualized interventions that enable a patient to feel supported and encourage them to learn and build meaningful relationships. 

The basic building blocks of the nurse-patient relationship in the open setting are trust, and openness to honest feedback from patients and staff alike. We reflect with our patients on their behavior in a non-judgmental way to explore their coping mechanisms. We wonder with them if this behavior is positive or negative, helping them discern what they would like to change about a particular behavior. This reflecting back and feedback provides a growth opportunity for the patients. The nurse can make use of numerous opportunities during the day to incorporate this into the patients’ treatment. We meet with patients on a one-to-one basis, but also in common areas of the milieu. As Florence Nightingale said so long ago, “So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard seed germinates and roots itself.” I believe this to be still relevant today in my nursing work at The Austen Riggs Center.

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