“I feel the root of palliative care is focused on caring for the whole unit, including the family, friends, pets, and especially the patient. I pride my work on caring for each unit of one’s family and being mindful of “the little things” they find happiness in.” — Registered Nurse Cindy Scott shares her experiences working with patients in Palliative Care in a winning Nevada Hospital Association essay.
Registered Nurse Cindy Scott has always been revered by her colleagues for her exceptional service to patients. Cindy is passionate about her work in palliative care, and it shows.
When she was approached by her director, Mary-Ann Brown to enter the Nevada Hospital Association (NHA) essay contest, Cindy jumped at the opportunity. She was beyond excited to share her experiences with palliative care and educate others on this often overlooked field of nursing.
But she certainly didn’t expect to win.
Let’s back up for a minute.
Cindy actually started at Renown Regional Medical Center in Medical-Telemetry before moving to cancer — her passion. Or so it was until she joined the Palliative Care team in April 2015. Interestingly, Cindy’s experience with cancer patients lent itself to her work in palliative care.
She cared for cancer patients who improved and got better; conversely she witnessed as some of her patients lost their battle with the disease. She experienced it all.
“My background in cancer plays a huge role in my work in palliative care because I developed a different understanding of death and dying,” explains Cindy, BSN, RN, OCN. “I think compassion and being comfortable with death and dying has been ingrained in me through my work at Renown. It was part of my job in cancer, and it set me up for success as a palliative care nurse.”
‘As a Palliative Care Nurse, Care is One of My Number One Concerns’
In her essay, Cindy conveyed how she supports her patients and their family members, and how they, in turn, welcome her to be there with them during that stage in their life. It is their welcome that allows Cindy to see the impact she makes on her patients. Cindy’s powerful words and story led her to be named an NHA essay contest winner in the professional development category.
“I was really surprised when I won as it was literally my mind on paper,” explains Cindy. “You wouldn’t think that helping somebody die, for lack of better terms, is a positive thing. But, when people think they are taking out the suffering and taking out all the unnecessary treatments that they don’t want or that aren’t going to make the outcome any different, it’s nice to be that support for them.”
In her essay, Cindy wrote:
“I can get to the heart of someone by simply asking, ‘What brings you the most enjoyment in your life?’ I am often amazed at the answers I receive such as, ‘The sound of my grandkids playing in the yard,’ ‘My cats,’ ‘The smell of bacon frying in my kitchen,’ ‘Watching my church program on Sundays because I can’t make it there anymore,’ ‘My family.’
“Albeit simple, I find that the things that bring these very ill patients the most happiness are the things we take from them to have them participate in rehab or therapy, simply because that patient’s goals are sometimes assumed and never asked.”
For Cindy, palliative care isn’t just about coaching patients through their last days of life. It’s about being supportive, empathetic, and setting the stage and preparing patients for what’s to come.
“It’s nice to sit down and really dive into problems with people and figure out what’s at the root,” says Cindy. “It’s a gift to have that time together and answer their questions, and make sure they understand and are content with the plan.”
Her work can be challenging and emotional, but Cindy benefits from a solid support system of friends and family. And it doesn’t hurt that she continually focuses on the positive aspects of work.
“My passion for my patients and my desire to support them drives the work I do every day,” she says.