Write a reflective essay on my first day at practice assessment

A Gibbs Reflective Cycle (1998) Guided Description of My First Time Experience Talking to a Patient
Nursing students are required to do practice assessments at medical institutions of the University’s choice. This assessment allows students to put their knowledge and skills into action. Students who take this practice as a learning experience tend to learn more skills, benefit from engaging with experienced nurses, and deepen their understanding of the medical/clinical field. Like most students, I was eager to be a practicing nurse on the first day of my practice assessment at a local hospital. Surprisingly, I got a chance to communicate with a patient on my first day as a student nurse, which was quite interesting.
Description of What Happened
My supervisor assigned me to assist the local hospital’s senior breast surgeon. A female patient was diagnosed with the BRCA1 mutation. Based on the surgeon’s diagnosis, the twenty-five-year-old patient was at a high risk of getting aggressive breast cancer in her late thirties when considering her family history. Her mother battled breast cancer for a long time before she passed away. The surgeon told me that the lady refused to have her breast surgically removed despite all the factors that make her vulnerable. According to the surgeon, the best way to treat the patient was through a mastectomy. The breast surgeon accompanied me to the patient’s room after requesting me to talk to the patient to change her mind about the surgery. I was not fully prepared to speak to the patient, even though I agreed. Despite the lack of experience, I listened and talked to her for almost an hour. I learnt that she did not want to lose her breasts at twenty-five. Then, I told her a story about how I lost my favourite cousin to cancer. It was devastating that he did not want to fight it the right way, and I lost my friend. I encouraged her to remember the people who care about her. After empathising with her, she agreed to do the surgery as scheduled.
Feelings from the Experience
Working with a surgeon on my first day was tensing. The tension increased when he told me to talk to the young patient. I felt so confused and unprepared since I did not know how to start talking to her as a nurse and a young person. The surgeon felt that talking to a peer would help the patient become more open to the procedure. Listening to how she felt about losing her breasts made me compassionate (Smith, 2019). I felt that narrating a story of how my cousin died at a young age after refusing treatment would help her understand how risky it was to avoid the mastectomy procedure. I was thrilled when she agreed to go through the surgery because it meant she would have a fighting chance to be with her family and friends. I want to become a nurse to help people, and being there for the lady made me realise how I would be a great compassionate nurse.
Evaluation and Analysis
Several issues went well when I talked to the lady. I realised how compassion helps improve patient care, learnt how teamwork is essential in the medical field, gained confidence, and was able to apply some knowledge and skills I learnt in school. Honest and empathetic communication with the patient helped her see the effects breast cancer has on people (Allen, 2019). The way a senior surgeon allowed a new student nurse to have a heart-to-heart talk with a patient was quite unprofessional and inconsiderate because I had no experience with talking to patients about delicate subjects of their health. I did not expect an oncologist to allow a practicing student to help him in handling his patient. Teamwork emphasised the need for healthcare professionals to work together for the overall wellness of a patient. Lessons about cancer helped me understand the implications BRCA1 mutations had on people’s lives when the surgeon talked about his patient. I achieved a positive outcome from connecting with the patient by talking about a relatable loss due to cancer.
Specific issues made talking to the patient difficult. I was not prepared to talk much that day; I doubted my communication skills; I was anxious about the impression I would make on my first day. I had to take deep breaths to remain calm. Having prior knowledge about the surgeon’s task would have helped me prepare through in-depth research. I applied Peplau’s interpersonal relations theory when communicating with the patient (Neese, 2016). The approach helped me consider the emotions and opinions of the lady when we were sharing. I used the Dyadic interpersonal communication model when I was practicing deep listening. Two-way communication made me understand why the patient was reluctant to get her breasts removed. Nursing is guided by several ethics, like honesty and adherence to science (Chadwick and Gallagher, 2016). It was my duty to be honest to the lady regardless of my personal feelings towards her choice. According to the science, she knew that deciding to live without the procedure would shorten her life (Verhoeven et al., 2019). Talking to a young vulnerable patient improved my compassion and communications skills, which will promote my efficiency as a nurse in the long-run.
Nurses and other medical professionals need to demonstrate compassion to their patients when communicating. If I had to talk to a patient again, I would ensure that I was more prepared than this day. Preparation is critical in reducing anxiety when handling vulnerable patients. I have learnt that connecting with patients through deep listening and personal experiences can lead to better treatment choices. In my nursing career, I intend to use compassion and honesty to promote high-quality care for the patients.
Action Plan
After writing this reflection, I would have approached the situation differently by respectfully telling the surgeon that I did not feel prepared to handle such a patient, hence the need to assign the task to a more professional nurse. I would have been more open about how a lack of experience would result in poor communication with the patient and discouraging her further. If the patient became more distressed, she would have decided to go to a different hospital. That experience taught me to speak up and tell my supervisors my honest opinions regarding specific tasks that require actual nursing experience.
Allen D., 2019. Why every nurse in every setting needs core skills. Nursing Standard, 34(1), pp. 53-54. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23/11/2020].
Chadwick R., Gallagher A., 2016. Ethics and nursing practice. London: Macmillan International Higher Education.
Neese B., 2016. Effective communication in nursing: theory and best practices [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23/11/2020].
Smith M. C., 2019. Nursing theories and nursing practice. Philadelphia: FA Davis.
Verhoeven D., Kaufman C. S., Siesling S. and Mansel R., 2019. Breast cancer: global quality care. New York: Oxford University Press.

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