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Communication in focus for prospective nurses

Published: 3 November 2017

Students at the Bachelor Programme in Nursing, taking their degree in January 2018, at Luleå University of Technology, held an open nursing conference where they presented their degree projects. A common denominator was the importance of communication between nurses, relatives and patients, and between newly graduated nurses and established healthcare professionals.

Many newly graduated nurses experience that their more experienced colleagues made things unnecessarily difficult for them at the outset, when they begin their professional life. They need more support, introduction and positive feedback from more experienced colleagues in the practical work. To perform good care, you need collegial support, said Nicklas Olofsson, nurse student about one of the conclusions in his degree project

Open Nursing Conference

A total of 26 different degrees were presented. Nicklas Olofsson's thesis on the experience of newly graduated nurses to start working as a registered nurse, was one of them. The presentations were followed by questions and discussions from the audience.

– There are nice and well-presented presentations, and the students are really looking forward to highlighting their results in the graduation job. That piece has developed very positively, said Birgitta Lindberg, Senior Lecturer at the nursing program at Lulåa University of Technology.

Patients with type 2 diabetes

One of the students raised the challenges of communication in preventing diabetic ulcers in patients with type 2 diabetes in her thesis work. Foot problems can be severe because these patients often get worse circulation and reduced feeling in the feet. The risk increases for wounds in the feet, while at the same time causing the patient to feel the wounds themselves.

– For us nurses, it may not be enough to ask the patient how he or she is doing with his feet. It is important that we do a visual check that we ask the patient to actually take off socks and shoes so we can see their feet, said Ida Blomgren, who has done the degree work on this topic, together with Anneli Wuotila.

To communicate as a patient with ALS

Another degree project, about living with ALS as a patient, had been made by nursing students Siri Andersson and Jennifer Olea. One of their conclusions was that very few studies were done on how just patients with ALS experience their disease, which is a fatal disease today. There are more studies about the relative's situation. The patient's ability to communicate becomes difficult as the disease progresses. However, what could give the patient a sense of control about the situation, was to be able to communicate and decide on their own care. In order for the communication to work, dedicated healthcare professionals and eventually, assistive devices like touch paddles and images require no longer speech or writing.

About the fear of conflicts with healthcare professionals

Parents, who have children with severe or cognitive chronic illnesses and the parents' experiences of it, were in focus in a degree project by Anette Ahlqvist and Maria Lindkvist. They thought that these parents could feel isolated and  afraid to end up in conflict with the healthcare professionals, for which the whole family was dependent for help, and for that reason, the parents may not dare communicate all they wanted. What made these parents feel good was when they perceived that their children could act independently and cope with certain things that the chronic disease complicated.

Åsa Engström, professor of nursing care, told the students, who will soon work as legitimate nurses in professional life:

– Science and critical review are important areas of knowledge that we will take in our work. It has been found that the nurses who have a bachelor's degree provide better - and safer care. Continue asking questions, dare to be critical, and turn what you learned and make sure you have a lifelong learning, said Åsa Engström.