University of Detroit Mercy, USA
Title: Using poetry as a technique for nursing students to grasp the full meaning of clinical situations
Saunders is an Associate Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy and coordinates the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist program. She has 25 years experience as a RN and 10 years experience as a certified Clinical Nurse Specialist. She earned her Ph.D. in Nursing at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan in 2006. She has taught nursing for the past 15 years and specializes in on-line methodologies. Her expertise is in adult and gerontology nursing care. Dr. Saunders is well published in the area of family caregiving for heart failure patients.
Nurses have an intimate bond with patients and a strong motivation to meet patients’ needs. One way of reflecting on patients’ needs is the use of poetry to express feelings and perceptions of clinical events. Through poetic descriptions of clinical events, nursing students learn to express their inner feelings and thoughts about certain human conditions. The benefits of writing poetry have been expressed by both faculty and students alike. Students’ poems on clinical events often depict the dignity and respect they feel for patients and families who are suffering and provide a venue for students to express these feelings on care issues and opportunities for change. For example, one student’s poem described events from a past experience that was so troubling that it was the impetus for her to quit working in that particular setting. This poem depicted an event of a family’s wishes overriding that of the patient’s. This student expressed the pain she felt when the patient’s wishes were ignored. This poem was about making difficult decisions and deciding who has the right to do so which faculty can then use to educate and support students in their role as patient advocates. Yet, in another poem, a student revealed the benefits she witnessed of family being present during a patient’s cardiac resuscitation procedure. Overall, writing poetry can deepen the nursing students understanding of the realities faced by patients, families and nurses in health care and awaken ideas and plans to support, challenge or change current practices.