Book Review: ‘Minding The Bedside’ by Jerome Stone, RN, MA
How can we stay centered in the midst of a crazy patient assignment? How do we find compassion for the combative patient? For the family that attempts to thwart your care at every turn? How can we stay present with our patients when our stream of thoughts runs the gamut from our mortgage payment to an impending snowstorm to our own health or the loss of a loved one? How can we find the joy again in caring for others?
Many of us have thought about the benefits of meditation only to shy away from it, or have given meditation a try only to give up within a few minutes. Nurses are inherently perfectionists. We like everything we do to be done exceptionally well. So when our minds wander within the first few moments of trying to meditate, we chastise ourselves and find an excuse to do something else.
But if you’re ready to try again, I suggest “Minding the Bedside,” by Jerome Stone, RN, MA, serve as your textbook. Stone is a RN with 30+ years of healthcare experience and a longtime practitioner of meditation.
Mindfulness and awareness are simple concepts but can be elusive and difficult to grasp. Stone provides tangible explanations for people who might find meditation daunting or ambiguous. If you’ve dabbled in meditation how-to books before, there’s something different about this one. Stone writes in a conversational style that makes you feel like you’re hanging out with a fun co-worker who just happens to have the inner peace of a Buddhist monk.
“The greatest challenge to our becoming more mindful can actually be the realization of how distracted we are. We sit down to meditate, contemplate, or bring our minds home, and we end up running from the room, screaming, “How did I become so distracted?”
He provides examples of how to apply mindfulness to our real lives as nurses, but this is not a book with lots of fluffy personal anecdotes, either. He saves personal examples only for the powerful moments in his own life that punctuate a key point, moments that nurses and other healthcare workers, especially, can relate to.
From chapter to chapter, Stone takes you on a slow, at-your-own-pace kind of journey, widening your view of awareness at a digestible rate. His exercises throughout build on the basics of meditation and awareness, while incorporating issues and themes most consistent with our experiences as caregivers.
“We make up stories about our thoughts all of the time, thinking that this is who we are. We make a good decision about the care of a patient, who then recovers, and we’re a “great nurse.” We miss a detail in a treatment plan or overlook a new order, our patient declines (or dies!), and we’re a bad nurse. We get recognized for our outstanding participation in committees and working groups, and we’re “exceptional”, or we can’t take the stress of the hospital environment, and we’re a “quitter.”
Stone incorporates excerpts from well-respected texts about mindfulness and awareness and then clearly explains them for those of us who might feel not quite enlightened enough to understand what the masters are saying. And he brings the refreshing element of humor into the mindfulness journey.
“Remember to have a really good sense of humor as you do this, because you may find yourself laughing at the absurdity of how many different things you think of in a very short time.”
Who knew it didn’t have to be so serious all the time? He also shows us that compassion and mindfulness is accessible for people of all faiths.
Be sure to check out Jerome Stone’s website, MindingTheBedside.com for articles, audio resources and more.