See Me As A Person: Attunement (Guest Blogger Terri Might)

When we care for our patients & families, we focus on them as people and not as objects. To do that successfully we must be in tune – or attuned – to them and our environment. When we are attuned to our patients and families, we provide a compassionate presence, a feeling of harmony or oneness with another. It is a way of being and a way of doing where we focus on another person with openness and acceptance. The result is that patients and families believe that we are truly present and they feel emotionally safe.

As I was sharing this at JamesCare East, Terri Might shared a story that demonstrates this perfectly. Here is Terri’s story:

We had a gentleman and his daughter come into the clinic for an initial visit.  After the PCA  roomed him, she came to me saying he is a little tense.   When I went into the room he was tense and didn’t want to make eye contact.  I noticed some medals on his Vietnam Veteran hat, and asked him about them.  He began to tell the story of his experiences in a war zone- about being 18 years old, scared to death, being flown in by helicopter to combat zones with what would become his “brothers” on their first day.  It took a long time to assess him, but at least he was talking. 

 I reported to the resident the information I had recorded as well as his mindset.  The resident went in, and about 20 minutes later the patient came out of the room and paced the hallway crying.  There were 3 different people that came to me in the physician work room to let me know this was happening at about the same time.  By the time I reached him he was ready to go back into the room, but was able to tell me he lost the last of the good friends from Vietnam just yesterday.  He also showed me a picture of a quilt that was made for him with a picture of his motorcycle on it.  He went back in and completed the assessment by the resident, then saw the attending.  By the time I went back in to review the orders and discharge him he and I were on very good terms and he agreed to all we needed to do, including a bone marrow biopsy.  His daughter shared with me later that she and her dad went over 20 years without even speaking to each other and had only recently began to try to have a relationship again. 

Our entire team did a great job. We were attuned to this patient and his daughter. 



Terri Might is a Registered Nurse at JamesCare East. She has been a RN at our hematology/oncology clinic at East Hospital for 10+ years.