Catherine, a first year student, reflects on the powerful experience of being involved with #poeticnursingheart

A First Year Students Perspective of #poeticnursingheart

To understand how I first became involved with this event I need to give some context about a poem Samantha Hales and I wrote. During a Principles of Nursing Practice lecture we were asked to produce a piece of course work on a nursing theory and present this to our group the following week. Both of us were inspired by the enthusiasm and suggestions of how we could chose to present this by our lecturer Tom Delahunt, within his lectures he allows you the freedom to express how you as individuals learn and encourages you to look outside of the norm and explore your creative side, to grow and develop and to share the knowledge you gained researching with others. When you’re given this freedom it’s amazing what can be produced, to have free reign to allow your creative side to come to the fore is liberating.

Sam and myself looked at Jean Watson she states that ‘Health is the unity and harmony within the mind, body and soul and that actual caring involves actions by both patient and nurse and the moment of coming together in a caring occasion presents them with the opportunity to decide how to be in a relationship and what they do with the moment. The transpersonal concept is an intersubjective human to human relationship where by the nurse affects and is affected by the patient, both feel a union that becomes part of the life story of both”. Her theory addresses health promotion, preventing illness and experiencing peaceful death using a holistic approach to health/ill health. After looking at her theories we decided that to be able to express our thoughts and feelings fully and to show how emotive we felt we would use our creative side and encompass Jean Watson’s Theory with our perception and understanding with the power of words.

This poem is adapted from Jean Watson’s Philosophy of Nursing, in which the embodiment of care, loss, dignity, nurturing and empathy is encompassed.

The Embodiment of Care

I am more than a nurse

I am me

Entwined with philosophy
Nothing researched
Nothing gained
Wrapped around my patients pain

Your fear is visible
Inside you it grows
I lend you the courage
To impart with you woes

My empathy grows with each coming day
Our connection flourishes as I understand your wishes
We work in harmony
I champion your needs

I cherish the trust you have placed in me
I feel your pain
I sense your apprehension
Your fear is emblazoned in my soul
Find comfort in the warmth I convey

As I nurture your mind
Your body dwindles
The light fades from behind your eyes
As you slip away you take a piece of my soul with you
My care knows no bounds as I mourn your passing

Did I afford you dignity in dying?
I hope you experienced peace and felt a sense of belonging
The acceptance of responsibility weighs heavily on my mind
I encompassed the care
It was an honour to champion your needs through to the very end
I feel privileged to have helped you find the courage to confront life and death
I had dignity in you

Samantha Hales and Catherine Leah

The poem had a fantastic reception within the classroom setting, there was a moments silence while people thought about the words we had written, I was a little taken aback by the praise bestowed on us, to me this was an out pouring of our creative words brought together to show our awareness and understanding of a nursing theory. It was a joy to be able to showcase poetry as part of our coursework for our nursing degree.

Tweets started appearing about an event being held by two senior lecturers at Canterbury Christchurch University, Nicole South and Tom Delahunt were together spearheading the #poeticnursingheart event, a coming together of faculty, staff and students, to be able to share their love of poetry, this was not to be missed. I was kindly extended an invite to join the occasion and asked if I could read and talk about why we wrote this poem as it had been the catalyst for the innovative minds that orchestrated the event.

Sitting in the room watching it fill, I won’t lie filled me with a few butterflies I would be sharing Sam’s and my creation and when you share something so personal with people, some of them strangers your meeting for the first time can seem awfully daunting. So with shaking hands and courage I explained the back ground to the poem and then read aloud to the room hoping they would see our vision and connections to the nursing theory. My fears were unfounded the poem received some wonderful remarks and praise. One by one people shared their poems, each had great sentimental significance to the reader and were read with feelings and heart felt emotions that could be sensed by all of us in the room. The impact these readings had on all involved in this event was tremendous, there was a roller coaster of emotions that were shared. Happiness, sadness, loss, grief and laughter were all worn on our sleeves, together we were united by our love of poetry with a safe space created by Nicole and Tom to be able to be so open and display such raw emotional state with each other.

A member of the Senior Management Team asked permission to read our poem at the year three end of year conference, she was very sincere in her accolade of how good she thought our poem was that she wanted to be able to share it with the other students. The response from the students was humbling, the poem reinvigorated and rejuvenated their passion and love of nursing. None of this would have been possible without lecturers that inspire their students, for this I would like to thank Nicole and Tom for their continued support. Lecturing isn’t just about delivering a power point and course content, it’s about connecting and stimulating those you are sharing your knowledge and passion for nursing with to enable then to grow into caring, compassionate and competent nurses who can be proud of their nursing roots and will know that their roots are solid, entwined with not just the required knowledge base but width and depth from an array of learning styles and resources. Nicole and Tom carry on being as creative as you can please with your delivery of the nursing curriculum; you will inspire many future nurses with your passionate teaching styles and enthusiasm.

I have been encouraged to look outside the norm and whenever possible will try to combine creative pieces of my heart into my nursing degree this I feel will develop me into a nurse that is not only knowledgeable and competent but someone that looks inwards and finds the beauty and emotiveness to place the patient at the heart of the care I give.


Reflect, respond, contribute #poeticnursingheart