Communicating in a health crisis
Communication skills and empathy are critical for any health care professional dealing with families facing medical crises.
Crystal-Rae Venes developed those skills as a nursing student, not just in health care settings but also through research at UWM.
Led by nursing professor Jane Leske, Venes assisted in a two-year study that showed that families of trauma patients – like those injured by firearms or in auto accidents – can benefit by being present during critical moments of care. Venes was one of the co-authors when the research was published, and her research experience helped inspire her to become a trauma care nurse.
She now works as a case manager for iCare (Independent Care Health Plan), helping patients with chronic health problems, but her research work at UWM still influences her approach to patient care.
“I use the knowledge I’ve gained every day, between working in the ICU and teaching patients in the community. Families dealing with someone with congestive heart failure or diabetes have to know how to best help them, just like those families who have loved ones in intensive care,” she says.
Leske says, “I think it’s important that students know research is not just about collecting and analyzing data.” By participating in the research study, her students “got to see a multidisciplinary approach to patient survival.”
Leske is an international expert on caring for families of patients in critical care situations. With a colleague, she wrote the Critical Care Family Needs Inventory, a survey tool that’s been translated into more than 20 languages to develop family-centered care guidelines in hospitals worldwide.