Autoethnographic Journey to Discover the Heart and Art of My Nursing Practice
This thesis presents an autoethnographic study of the concept of 'compassionate listening' within my general and palliative care practice. I examined my care for people in critical life course moments to gain insight into the process of listening with compassion. This insight evolved through a process of layered reflection using a series of texts, particularly stories that captured critical moments in working with people who were facing crisis situations or who were dying. Writing and reflecting on these stories enabled me identify how I engaged with patients and their loved ones. I was able to explore how compassionate listening could be used to ascertain their needs, particularly when they were unable or unsure how to proceed. Compassion implies the capacity to acknowledge another human's suffering or predicament. Compassionate listening is a form of active listening that begins with the intention to be present for the person. It brings humanness, patience, an acknowledgement of one's own vulnerability and a willingness to interact with a person in a meaningful way that could alleviate some of their suffering. During this special encounter both nurse and patient reach an embodied knowing. In studying this aspect of caring I chose stories from my practice that were written over a number of years in different locations. I reflected again on these stories to gain deeper insight and asked colleagues to read some of the texts and give me feedback on my practice. Their comments were a valuable part of this layered reflective process. This thesis presents eight stories and a series of reflections on those stories and colleague's comments, which enabled me to explore compassionate listening as it evolved in my practice. This study contributes to an understanding of how the ability to develop refined awareness of meaningful interactions with people can enhance wellbeing for both the patient and nurse.