Over the course of my nursing career I had countless wonderful encounters with patients and their families. Do I remember them all? Not even close. And I think I’m probably like most caregivers in that way. But as many as 30 years after the fact, I will have former patients or family members tell me that I helped shape a lasting memory. The difference in the same encounter being memorable for them and not the caregiver is the level of significance in their life story. Most of the patients and families we serve are dealing with medical situations that cause them heightened concern, physical and emotional pain. They are scared and vulnerable which opens the door for the caregiver to step in to quell fears, offer timely information, and relieve pain. These encounters are all in a day’s work for the caregiver but often become significant in the individual and family’s life story.
I’m pleasantly surprised at how many of my patients will remember me decades after a brief encounter and I know I’m not alone. The fact that I could become even a paragraph in their life story reinforces the importance of engaging with them to craft memorable patient experiences.
Today millions of healthcare workers will have millions of encounters with patients and families. If you work in healthcare you are making memories. How will today’s stories take shape? What will the patients remember? Today is your chance to shape a story of compassionate care. Make every encounter count.