Response to Theresa Brown’s Critical Care

1.) Theresa Brown’s first encounter with a patient’s death was with Mary. When Mary died, she told the family, “This is the end of her life; this is death”. My impression of this experience is that it is the nurses role to comfort both the patient and the family, because both are very vulnerable in a time of distress. Brown comforted Mary with medicine, and comforted the family with her advice, her professionalism, and empathy. From this experience, I was most surprised at how natural this came to Brown, being her first death and all.When I become a nurse, I hope to be as composed as Brown was when it comes to my patients’ deaths. I am a deeply empathetic person in general so I have a feeling that a patient’s death will emotionally drain me, and personally impact me. Although I may never want to have to face the death of a patient, and deal with the emotions it may bring, I know that it is a nurse’s duty to be the family’s support system, and to be there for them in their time of trouble.

3.) In the chapter, Switch, Theresa Brown writes, “But nursing is too difficult and too important a job for help to come with a hierarchy.” One example where I saw that hierarchy manifested was with Nurse Crystal. Brown admitted that Crystal degraded her in front of other staff in an aggressive manner, which left Brown frustrated and humiliated. Crystal, who is a senior staff member, used her power to be a bully, rather than a leader and helper. Instead of hearing Brown out, she disregarded her advice for the patient, made no eye contact, and picked apart any error Brown may have made. An example of an egalitarian relationship that was portrayed in the book was between Brown and the nurse she was precepting with. In the first chapter, Brown told her story of the time her and Penny, her preceptor, were helping a patient move from the bed to a chair. They both were doing equal work when it came to transporting the patient. As soon as something went wrong, Penny did not take control over the situation, but instead let Brown have the chance to make assessments and decisions. As equals, they both collaborated together to get their patient, Jim, safe and stable. There was no harassment, belidgering or barking of orders, but simply a team of calm professionals.

4.) A section of Theresa Browns’ Critical Care that had an impact on me was in the last paragraph in Chapter 6, “Condition A”. She said “…the antidote to death is life”. In this chapter she recounted her two experiences with Condition A. She conveys that after death, the only way to cope is to simply live your life the best that you can. “Love your children, try not to bicker, eat well, walk in the rain, feel the sun on your face, and laugh loud and as often as possible, and especially at yourself”, she says. As someone who has never really had to face death head on, and never lost a loved one, my biggest fear is that I will not know what to do. My inexperience with death and the emotion that comes with it is such a distant concept to me, and I dread the day that a Condition A will happen to one of my patients. As a future nurse, death is not what scares me the most, but how I will cope with that death afterwards. Will I cry for weeks and lose all self awareness? Will I be able to sleep and get enough rest to be able to care for my other patients? Theresa Brown’s perspective on how to deal with death gave me a sense of profound enlightenment.

5.) Theresa Brown relates a poem by Frank Bidart to a career in nursing. The comparison was made to show that in nursing, there is love and hate involved. I know that with anything you do in life that you are passionate about, there has to be a ying and a yang. In nursing, we often think of the profession as simply helping, curing, treating, and most importantly caring. These are the aspects of nursing that made me want to become a nurse in the first place. They are the reasons that make nursing gratifying in every way, and make all of the hard work worth it. But, for everything there is to love about nursing, there are things to hate as well. There is death, there is suffering, there is pain, oftentimes loneliness and regret as well. These are the things nurses face head on everyday when dealing with patients unfortunately. Nursing deals with these terrible occurrences just as often as they deal with the wondrous ones, and so love and hate will prevail in this field of work whether we like it or not.

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