One of the most interesting aspects of week one during my volunteering was working in teams. I worked with Juliana Rodriguez (nurse in charge), Ovido Nunes (drug nurse), as a volunteer, Patricia (mental health techniques), and Olga (mental health technique). I acknowledge the need for teamwork in delivering quality and timely care to the patient. Throughout my coursework, I have been learning about the central role of teamwork in nursing practice. In week two, I worked closely with patients connecting those quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19. As I helped the patients to face-time with their families, I clearly understood the role of families in care provision. While I have learned about involving families as part of the care procedures to support patients, I had not seen it work effectively as it did with the O’Neil family. The patient was relieved after talking to his parents, and the family was happy that he was responding positively to medication. I now acknowledge that involving families in care plays an important role in promoting the holistic wellbeing of everyone involved.
During the third week, I was involved in feeding elderly people who could not eat by themselves. I had to learn fast how to communicate effectively with the involved individuals for them to feel valued and cared for together with their families. From my coursework, I have learned that effective communication will go a long way in the provision of care to patients, and I confirmed the same during this week. In week four, I worked for three days, but what stood out was delivering messages and parcels to patients from their families. I realized that hospitalized people value the attention of their family members. This understanding is consistent with my coursework, whereby I have learned that families offer the needed psychological support to patients.
Looking back at my volunteering at a hospital set up, I realize that the knowledge that I have gained from my program’s coursework is important to my nursing practice. Almost everything that happened during my volunteering to shape my experiences was based on the theoretical work that I have covered in my coursework. For instance, in week one, the element of teamwork stood out clearly, and I cannot overemphasize the need for working in teams because nursing is an interdisciplinary practice that requires the involvement of individuals from different specializations (Rosen et al., 2018). Similarly, in weeks two and four, where I facilitated communication between isolated patients with COVID-19, I witnessed the importance of involving families in the process of giving care to patients. This aspect has featured prominently in my program because family members offer psychological support that patients need for recovery (Clay and Parsh, 2016). Additionally, throughout my coursework, I have been learning about the importance of effective communication in nursing practice, and I attested this claim during week three. I experienced first-hand how effective communication can facilitate the provision of quality care (Fakhr-Movahedi et al., 2016) as I interacted with elderly people under my care.
I have enjoyed my experience at Grand Canyon most of the time because every area provided an opportunity to learn. However, my experience would have been even better if I got the opportunity to volunteer more. The first-hand experience from such activities is invaluable as it allows one to see the applicability of theories learned in class. Some of the individuals that have influenced my stay at Grand Canyon include passionate professors who seek to instill knowledge to students in the best way possible, and the faculty, which has been highly supportive. Some events, like the volunteering aspect, have left an indelible mark in my life. During this period, I came to realize my calling into nursing is to care for people – for me, caring for those in need comes first.
Grand Canyon has changed me personally, professionally, and spiritually. On a personal level, I have a different view of my purpose in life- I believe that I was born to be a nurse, as I have continually discovered during my stay at the university. Professionally, Grand Canyon has given me the requisite knowledge and skills to further start and further my career in nursing. Spiritually, I learned the importance of mediation and spiritual growth as an individual.
My future can only be bright due to my experiences at Grand Canyon. I think that I am fully prepared to launch my nursing career as a competent nurse. Specifically, I am prepared for professional life theoretically and practically following my learning experiences at the university. For instance, during my practicums and volunteering, I have gained hands-on experience, which is applicable in nursing practice, and thus I am ready to start my career in earnest.
My volunteering has been a wealth of experience that cannot be gained elsewhere. Specifically, I volunteered during the COVID-19 outbreak, and I had the opportunity to learn how such occurrences affect healthcare systems. In my coursework, the issue of global outbreaks with far-reaching ramifications was not covered comprehensively. However, through volunteering, I made important observations that will shape my nursing career. First, I realized that healthcare is generally underfunded, and an outbreak could stretch all the available resources to the maximum. The issue of understaffing is real, and I can attest to it because I experienced it first-hand. I saw nurses having to work overtime at the risk of experiencing burnouts and exhaustion. In addition, the current infrastructure in many hospitals is not dynamic enough to handle an overflow of patients should a disaster strike. These observations made me think about ways through which the current healthcare systems could be remodeled to be more versatile and increase their capacity to deliver quality and timely care no matter the surrounding circumstances.
As such, I am rethinking what I have learned about advocacy in nursing. I believe that as advocates, nurses could play a central role in ensuring that our healthcare systems are sufficiently funded and staffed for the wellbeing of our patients. On the other hand, I learned that nursing is all about caring. Patients should be at the center of our decision-making – something I learned during my volunteering. When feeding the elderly who could not eat by themselves, I had a moment of revelation when I realized that these individuals entirely depended on other people for their needs, even the simplest of activities like feeding. At that moment, it occurred to me that the greatest legacy that I could leave for myself is to serve others passionately without counting the cost.
- Clay, A. M., & Parsh, B. (2016). Patient-and family-centered care: It’s not just for pediatrics anymore. AMA Journal of Ethics, 18(1), 40-44. doi:10.1001/journalofethics.2016.18.1.medu3-1601
- Fakhr-Movahedi, A., Rahnavard, Z., Salsali, M., & Negarandeh, R. (2016). Exploring nurse’s communicative role in nurse-patient relations: A qualitative study. Journal of Caring Sciences, 5(4), 267-276.
- Rosen, M. A., DiazGranados, D., Dietz, A. S., Benishek, L. E., Thompson, D., Pronovost, P. J., & Weaver, S. J. (2018). Teamwork in healthcare: Key discoveries enabling safer, high-quality care. The American Psychologist, 73(4), 433-450.