May the Force Be With YouNancy Robertson, DNP May 4, 2021
She looked at me incredulously. “What do you mean you use intuition to lead difficult conversations?”, she gasped. Her response pulled me up short. I forgot that I was mentoring a nurse practitioner student who was currently living in the world of academia. She was shoving as many facts, guidelines, and protocols into her head as she could manage. And if she couldn’t immediately recall necessary algorithms, she had apps on her phone she could quickly consult. She had come to learn that decisions to any patient dilemma are found in expert informed, evidence-based guidelines outside of herself.
This was her first exposure to the palliative care clinic. She had understandably assumed this rotation was to be just like any other specialty. And in many ways, she’s right. Treating EOL symptoms is heavily guided by evidence-based protocols. But she soon learned that talking with patients living in the uncertainty of serious, emotionally laden illness requires something more. I had forgotten to review the use of intuition with her as I have been a palliative care provider so long that this skill is second nature to me. I attempted to explain to her how to use one’s own body to feel and read the energy in a room. How an experienced palliative care provider will recognize how the energy dips and sways and how one dances gently along with the rhythm, guiding here, prompting there, with the goal of helping patients feel seen, heard, and understood. And eventually arriving at difficult decisions which hold the patients' values and beliefs strongly as center. Even with my weak attempt at explaining this concept, she grasped what I was saying and reflected back excitedly “I have never considered using my own body’s intuition as a tool!!”.
My work here is done, little one. 😊