About One DNP

I earned my "terminal practice" degree in nursing from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in a journey of excitement and challenge. It inspired me to advocate for an all encompassing clinical credential rather than continuing the hodgepodge of nonsensical initials. I hope these entries will provide entertainment and insight into the Doctor of Nursing Practice experience, which will soon be the entry standard for all advanced practice nurses.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Orientation Week: Day One

I flew into Memphis and cabbed it over to school just in time to sit through your usual school orientation - welcome, student assistance, health services, code of conduct, equality and diversity, honor code, campus safety, academic support, student panel - most of it was useful but much of it geared to the on-campus student. We got a free lunch (TNSTAAFL) and I snuck out to check into my hotel.

Since I hate driving, I decided to rely on public transport and take the trolly everywhere. I had initially intended on walking since my hotel is only a mile away, however the terrain is not conducive to a walk in triple digit temperatures. That, and when I asked some of the staff about walking there, bot said "this is Memphis, you know." Point taken.

The afternoon session began our first class, Interviewing and Counseling. This is the stuff I came for! We start with a "what would you say to this patient" exercise and I think years of teaching nurse-client interaction has made me a reflection junkie. We partnered up and recorded ourselves interview the other person and practicing empathy skills. I did not cringe at the sound of my own voice on playback and overall I did pretty well while identifying some areas I need to improve on. The class ended with a fabulous partitioner-patient communication demo by our instructor.

After preaching all last semester to my Nurse-Client Interaction students that there is not a script for perfect communication, it was nice to get validation from an instructor outside of Bellarmine. While I have been over lot of this material before, this was more of an advanced version. For example, I always thought the technique of echoing was a little creepy:

Patient: I feel sad.
Practitioner: You feel sad?

Sounds like you are just talking to talk or to prove you are listening. The "advanced" version is rephrasing with inference and a boatload of new emotional descriptions:

Practitioner: What I am hearing you say is you are discouraged and unappreciated because you have been working to have your family eat dinner together but no one wants to participate. That makes you want to stop trying and makes you feel like a failure.

Somehow therapeutic, somehow spooky in a fortune-teller sort of way! It is great to see that for as much as I know (or think I know), I have a good foundation on witch to refine and grow as a communicator.

The most interesting tidbit of the day came from the "Feeling Word Vocabulary" handout that classifies emotions into 5 categories with 3 levels of intensity. These link up nicely with the 5-Element emotions in TCM:

Happy - Heart
Scared - Kidney
Confusion - Spleen
Sad - Lungs
Angry - Liver

I keep thinking about a concept I learned in bioethics - language shapes the way we view the world. By and large I believe this to be true. Total number of words versus common and colloquial word usage between different languages is fascinating, especially when you come across those "it really isn't translatable in English" hurdles. In looking at this list, which is by no means comprehensive, there are dozens of ways to describe "happy" in English and I wonder if there is any correlation between knowledge/use of emotional descriptors and emotional contentment (i.e.. if you can specifically describe your feelings, does it aid your ability to set goals, feel secure, or pull out of unwanted emotions as opposed to someone who is vaguely or generally happy, sad, or angry?).

Bottom line - I am excited about this program and the upcoming changes in myself as both a clinician and a person.

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