Empathy and patient advocacy: a medical student's perspective

09 September 2021
3 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 16

As a medical student, I am often required to reflect on my experiences during my time on clinical placements. There are a wide variety of themes on which these reflective pieces can focus, and the experiences can be good, bad or both. It can be difficult to select individual experiences and concisely articulate them. However, an area that gained my interest was the nurse-patient relationship.

Looking back on these experiences, empathy and patient advocacy played an integral part in instances when there was a good nurse-patient relationship. It is critical that these facets of patient care are implemented by all members of the multidisciplinary team (MDT).

A great deal of my time on wards is spent clerking patients. In doing so, you not only gain extensive information about their lives, but you also get an invaluable insight into their experiences in the hospital. At times, patients would mention that they have reservations about voicing concerns because they know how busy health professionals are. They can feel as though they are a burden, and so keep these concerns to themselves. I noticed how nurses, understanding this, were able to create the perception that they had a great deal of time to speak with the patient, even when they were busy.

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