Identify an experience where you had to assess the needs, interests, and goals of a patient with an ethnic background, different from yours, that resulted in a positive learning experience. How did you turn the situation into a positive learning experience? Did you personally have to deal with any stereotypical beliefs?
The learning experience I remember was taking care of a fifteen-year old African American boy who lived in the projects. This patient refused to wear hospital clothing as well as his own pajamas; instead he wanted to wear his extremely baggy clothing and his ball cap sideways. This young man was diagnosed with type I diabetes after complaining of sudden headaches, blurred vision, fatigue, and polydipsia. This patient was a sophomore in high school and his mother was a single mom who had not graduated from high school.
This young man and his mother did not have an understanding of diabetes or the hospital setting. “The nurse educator must always find out what the learner knows prior to teaching and build on this knowledge base to encourage readiness to learn” (Bastable, 2014). After assessing this patient and his mother’s understanding of his new diagnosis of diabetes it was time to get started. Next I started teaching the patient and his mother the basics of diabetes and the treatment that would be required daily. I was surprised at how receptive they were to learning this new information. There were times when I had to repeat information, give-step-by-step instructions numerous times, and write it down for them. I had given them both pamphlets that I read and explained all the information slowly and carefully, stopped several times to let them ask questions, and made sure they understood everything presented. After interacting with the mother of the patient, it became apparent that she may have some learning disabilities. “Individuals with cognitive impairment present a special challenge to the educator and require simple explanations and step-by-step instruction with frequent repetition” (Bastable, 2014). The patient had exhibited a low reading level, but he was able to understand new diabetic material via a gaming method. I played a fun card game with the patient and he really enjoyed playing and winning. The playing cards were about diabetes, how to manage it, and how to live with it.
Upon being discharged from the pediatric unit, the patient and his mother were both knowledgeable about diabetes, how to live with it, and how to get in contact with the pediatric diabetic team. They were given discharge follow-up care instructions and I even walked them downstairs to the pediatric diabetic clinic so they could meet the staff, showed them where they needed to go for the patient’s follow up visits, and demonstrated how they would check in upon arrival to appointments. I worked hard to make this a positive experience for the patient and his mother because this was the start of a new lifestyle for both of them. It seemed time consuming and tiring at times, but this family needed the extra support and teaching techniques to make this a successful journey of living with diabetes.
Although the patient and his mother came from a completely different background from me, we still were able to work together well after some initial hesitation. Thepatient learned about his disease as well as how to make his diabetes treatment part of his everyday life. Every person learns differently and at different paces. I am so glad I was able to cater to the patient and his mother learning needs and they were both successful in learning all the information I presented to them about diabetes. Ultimately, it is truly inspiring when people from completely different backgrounds and upbringings can come together in order to achieve the same goal successfully.
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