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Healing hands

| Jan Adams

One of the first courses a College of Nursing and Health Sciences undergraduate student takes is NRSG 267, Clinical Practicum: Foundational Skills for Nursing Practice. Beyond the development of skills in nursing diagnosis, health teaching, basic nursing interventions, nursing documentation, medication calculation and administration of medications, emphasis is placed on therapeutic interpersonal communication, holistic assessment, and integrative therapies, including complementary and alternative modalities.

Sophomore nursing student, Ashley Longsdorf, had a recent experience using complimentary therapy in a rehabilitation environment. Ashley participated in practicing basic hand massage techniques with the guidance from one of her NRSG 267 instructors and was able to take that skill to the bedside. While working with a woman who was experiencing pain from rheumatoid arthritis, Ashley provided a light hand massage and found that her patient, "immediately started to open up and talk more. She freely spoke about her family and her career as an LPN. We talked about her 30 year career in nursing and the silence that existed when the conversation slowed, wasn't awkward or pressing like it was in between subjective assessment questions. It was just that we were sharing in this experience." Ashley reported that after receiving massages her patients seem happier, have better range of motion and less pain.

This hand massage therapy has been replicated by Ashley and her fellow students as they work with patients in a variety of environments. High-tech interventions are important and common in today's health care delivery systems. However, high-touch therapies like massage can help new nursing students build physical assessment skills, develop concepts of caring, and become attuned to their role as patient advocate.