1. Quinn, Shawn

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I recently completed my community health clinical rotation in home healthcare during my senior year in nursing school. Before that, when I thought of nursing care, the only thing that came to mind was the hospital setting. It was an enlightening and eye-opening experience to bring healthcare into the patient's home environment. As a result, I have come to realize that although the initiation of treatment usually occurs in a hospital setting, the bulk of a patient's recovery occurs in his or her home.


As a student nurse entering a patient's home for the first time, I felt a lot of anxiety related to not knowing what to expect. From a student perspective, the home healthcare clinical was a unique experience because I was allowed to focus on the nurse-patient relationship without the stress of managing several patients and practicing new skills in a hectic hospital setting. This is not to say that home healthcare does not come without many of its own challenges that require skilled nursing interventions. For me, it brought nursing back to the basics with more emphasis on the patient and less emphasis on technological advancements. I learned that home healthcare is a much-needed resource for patients who have significant healthcare needs following hospitalization, but are restricted to their homes.


This experience showed me the power of the nurse-patient relationship. As nurses, we take care of patients during some of the most challenging times of their lives. It is not our job to judge or belittle our patients but to show respect and remain open-minded and encouraging. If we do this, we can develop healthy nurse-patient relationships, which can have a profound effect on patient outcomes. An effective nurse-patient relationship is the best way to educate and empower patients. While working side by side with my supervising nurse I could tell that she knew all of her patients and their specific needs very well. I thought this was a brilliant aspect to home care nursing. Being able to individualize the care that a nurse gives is not something that should be underestimated.


In terms of the actual clinical experience, having the opportunity to follow up on patients on a week-to-week basis gave me a new perspective on what patients might go through after being discharged from a hospital. This clinical gives nursing students an opportunity to take the limited experiences that they have had and approach patient care in a different manner. I now realize how important it is to be knowledgeable about this aspect of healthcare so that I can be a better resource for future patients. I also learned a lot about the availability of community resources and the importance of early discharge planning for hospitalized patients. I have improved my practice in many areas and acknowledge the areas that I will continue to build upon as I gain more experience. I was not the only person who enjoyed home healthcare as most of my patients seemed to enjoy having a student temporarily involved in their care. We were able to learn from each other as the weeks progressed and relationships were formed.


The home healthcare clinical surpassed my expectations. I entered this clinical with the thought that it would not be very useful to my nursing career. I wanted to graduate with critical care experience as my most recent clinical experience. But, as I progressed in home care, I realized the important aspects of nursing that this clinical offered, particularly the unique nurse-patient relationship.