The Impact of Unsupportive Mentors on the Health of a Nursing Student

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The health of any living thing is of great importance to their well-being and survival in the immediate environment. Nursing students and any other student in higher learning institutions deserve an exemplary health considering the time-consuming coursework, stressing assignments and for the nursing students, taking care of patients during their first placements.  In the view of Hausman, (2015), most students have the inner ability to identify issues that affect their health status and well-being, but they chose to ignore them and focus their minds on studies and other things. A nursing student usually perceive themselves as providers of health care services and being recipients elope their minds always. In this light, therefore, this paper will examine the different factors that have influenced my well-being and holistic health since I joined college. In a nutshell, this paper will majorly focus on the impacts that unsupportive mentors have on the health and well-being of a nursing student. The paper will thoroughly explore the topic herein through deducing concepts of stress and low self-esteem. A unique multifaceted concept of health will be demonstrated in the paper and how it is not within the public domain.

Health is a word with different definitions and carries with it theories that are interpreted differently depending on an individual's religious background, traditional beliefs and values, school of thought and knowledge (Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 2014, p. 389). Health is the most commonly used term that confuses even her users and for this reason, nursing students of higher education learning centers should hold to the lay belief. According to Hausman (2015), he suggested that, for the sake of the service users, a broader perspective of health should be incorporated to encompass other health beliefs and theories so as to globally harmonize the meaning of health. The view of Hausman is theoretically supported by an opinion that when nursing students and professionals assert the professionalism and maintained their view about health then the views of others will be thwarted.

In 2017, Herman claimed that health is a mere term whose major focus is grounded on the external manifestation of a disease. According to Herman (2017), disease resides in or on the body of an individual and the complete body consists of the physical body and the invisible mind; both are targets of a disease. Remarks have been made by professionals in an attempt to define health that it means the absence of a disease. In essence, these remarks and claims by Herman only suit the bio-medical model in an attempt to explain or rather define health, that is why traditionally the healthcare system concentrated in treating acute diseases and injuries.

Globalization and advancement of technology are slowly revolutionized this and giving health a suitable definition. Continuation of the bio-medical model system is dehumanizing according to Sarvimäki, A. (2006) thus rendering the patient to be a lay and the professional becomes an expert. The above risk makes the bio-medical approach to health dangerous and even the holistic needs of the patient are not met ("Meaning of Symptoms in the Bio-Medical Paradigm," n.d., p. 129). Although there is an advancement in the knowledge of medicine and with the help of technology, yes, lives are prolonged in heavy machines and inventions of life support machines has revolutionized the healthcare system but still, people are dissatisfied and proportionally well (Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 2014, p. 567)

The reason why this archaic approach to health is decaying, it focuses on treating the symptoms without due diligence experiments and laboratory reports to ascertain the cause of the disease. In this case, the illness may either persist or reappears. Sarvimäki, A. (2006) claimed that when an illness becomes chronic due to poor treatment or management, it reduces the quality of life of the patient and the overall well-being.  Cranwell-Ward, J., & Abbey, A. (2005) further criticized the bio-medical approach, claiming that it is founded on customs and norms that believed that weak mentality is related to health or the general weakness of the physical body is related to health. This implies that the bio-medical approach to health fails to consider permanent functional impairments to the body parts.

Consequently, Colten, M. E (2017) defined health as both to do and to have it, though daily activities and well-being respectively. When this definition is compared to the bio-medical approach to health, it is evident that the duo concentrates in physical problems absentia. Colten, M. E (2017) further expounded that health is not related to exhaustion or weakness but rather resilience and strength, this way, these definitions are connecting at weaknesses. Though health begins at conception, it doesn’t end at death but continues even years after the demise of a person. After death, bones and remains may be analyzed and tested as either healthy or unhealthy.

During the pregnancy period, the health status of the fetus depends on the decisions made by the pregnant woman and her health conditions. After birth, more so when the child has become of age, determinants of his/her health status changes to environmental factors, psychological factors, social factors, lifestyle choices and the genetic makeup of an individual.

World Health Organization's definition of health adds another ingredient into the health definition saga. Factors affecting an individual's health status are grouped into external and internal factors through their contribution to the well being of a human man is equal. Good health, according to World Health Organization (2015), means being completely okay mentally, socially, physically and in the general well-being. According to WHO (2015), good health is not pegged on the mere absentia of infirmity or illness. When the complete well being is incorporated in the definition of health, then it becomes an unattainable ideal because it is impossible for an individual to be an incomplete state of a well-being.

According to Colten, M. E (2017), an ideal complete well being is an unattainable since every human being is suffering in one way or the other hence in need of medical attention to restore the normality of body and mind functionality. Being that the World Health Organization’s definition encompasses both normal functions of the body parts or an individual and absence of an illness, it adds the social humanistic into the definition of health from the angle of bio-medical. In hospitals and other medical care centers, diagnosis alone is not enough but a track record of an individual's illness and its impacts are crucial. In the words of Krishnamurthy, T. (2004), this theory claims to support, regular check-up of a patient on the impacts that the illness that might cause should be kept in order to prescribe the best treatment for the disease.

There is a general belief that cuts across both professionals and non-professionals in medic, such beliefs hold true to the coherent description of an illness and tend not to believe on the laboratory or scientific explanation of the disease (Amanatullah, 2016). Such beliefs are known as lay beliefs and they suggest that an individual's life experience, values, and knowledge in relation to their expectation of the functionality of their body parts and behavior, plays a critical role in developing their health status.  Sarvimäki, A. (2006) expounded that when the definition of health is personified then individuals will concentrate on the positive side, wellness, and they will start to focus more on the symptoms that lead to the restoration of their health status rather than having a negative mindset. When a person glued his thought on the definition of health that states that health is the absence of a disease then they will be mentally complete and socially free knowing that they are not ill thus they are healthy. The only primary disadvantage with this belief is that it fluctuates in that when people perceive their health as poor then their emphasis will focus on the negative indicators.

In essence, the adaptation of an individual to illness is pegged on so many factors; some are religious, traditional, and level of education (Amanatullah, 2016). For example, when an individual is suffering from a chronic disease and he is only associating with people of similar health status then his mental inclination will waiver towards the negative indicators thus resulting in other diseases as well and vice versa. When an ill person strives to achieve the wellness state then there is a likelihood that he may overcome the illness. There is a connection between a person's inner being, spirit, and prescriptions. They all work in harmony to restore the health of an individual (Sarvimäki, 2006).

Health is a very complex term whose meaning is complicated and broad. So far, there is no one definition that involves all the desired words that best describe what health is but through study and research, scholar comes up with new definitions every day which only satisfy their work. In this light, being a scholar, here goes my definition: health is the complete state of being psychologically or physically free from illness in accordance to an individual's evaluation.

Since I joined the higher learning institution, I have always tried to keep my health on check though I must admit that it has ranged affected by many factors. To achieve a stable health status since I graduated into being a college student has been hectic and the attempt met by both internal and external factors. The first time that I realized that my health condition was disproportionate was during my first internship. The internship compromised both my health and well being and for the first time, I felt like my own person is slipping from me. The internship period was indeed cumbersome and it was the first time in my life that I was given responsibilities with attached deadlines. It was very difficult to cope with new environment and get used to my new colleagues.

I always wanted not to fall behind on my responsibilities but I strived through stressful days and odd hours to meet my deadlines. In order to meet achieve this, I had to forgo lunch and sometimes breakfast and in the process, I developed stomach ulcers. I chose my responsibilities over my health and well being. As days passed by, my conditions continued to worsen. The stress at work and the supervisors who ignored my conditions but instead continued to pile responsibilities on my desk made me hate my work and regret choosing that hospital. As my day's draws by, I was filled with the desire to just complete my internship period and go home – a place that I swore to visit after my internship. So I continued to work to complete though with lots of stress and worries. Worries that I may fall behind my schedules and my internship canceled or postponed.

My internship period was the worst period of my life up to this age. I met the most unsupportive and unfriendly teammates that ensured that I hate every bit of my stay in that hospital. Little did I know that I had started developing wounds along the walls of the stomach and colon. Don’t get me long, the thought of giving up and just going home crossed my mind in several accusations but the desire to complete became my pillar and motivation. I didn’t want to disappoint my family members, especially my mother who had struggled to see me through my academic journey. The thought of wanting not to fail them became a stressor too. I lost my social health during this period because I could barely hang out with my friends anymore and this affected me psychologically.

This internship was essential in my nursing career – my dream career. It was meant to set the pace in my nursing education path, through study shows that in most cases nursing students encounter a hostile environment during their first internship (Ellison, 1979). When choosing an internship center, a nursing student should research on the attitudes and the general behavior of both staff and support-staff because this is vital in building the foundation of competency skills and work confidence.

Although supervisors should offer guidance and support in a friendly way (Cranwell-Ward & Abbey, 2005), I didn’t see any of these but I had to learn through observation and sometimes I had to consult my books or peer review journals. Throughout my internship period, I felt excluded and in most cases, I used to execute tasks on my own, without supervisors. According to Tropiano, (1997), interns and supervisors should work closely for refinement and dissemination of knowledge. Tropiano continues to explain that unless the supervisor makes the environment-friendly, an intern can't make it on his own but will always feel excluded.

Supervision during the internship period equips interns with the knowledge of clinical engagement, especially in the first internship. Interns need to feel the sense of belonging and it is the work of their supervisor to introduce them to team members and the healthcare center officials. When an intern is well acquainted by this workstation and comfortable, they perform extraordinarily well and they grow both in experience and in health (Tropiano, 1997). The desire of every nursing student is to complete the coursework, placements, and internships in the conducive environment and stay away from the harm's way lest they suffer from low self-esteem and stress.

The negative attitude of my teammates and supervisor took a toll on me and greatly affected by psychological well being and self-esteem. The negative attitude subjected me to mental torture. I would ask myself questions but didn’t get their answers. I could not understand the level of such discrimination and I couldn’t understand whether it was based on race, religion, color, mental abilities etc. Nursing is one course that requires cooperation and love, sometimes it can be tedious and complicated (Cranwell-Ward & Abbey, 2005). Nursing practitioners fear stress, not because they want to protect themselves from it but because they can easily mess up a life when they are stressed (Crossland, 1997).

Most nursing students drop the course when they experience too much pressure that emancipated into stress. At work especially during the internship, stuff nurses can greatly motivate an intern, and they create a lasting impact on the student during their internship period. When the stuff nurses developed a negative attitude towards an intern, it creates a negative impression about the course in the memory of an intern which can lead to psychological torture or dropping up. Browne, (1979) put forth that the concept of self-esteem is as intertwined and ambiguous as health but ended up defining self-esteem as complete belief in whom we are regardless of the situation beforehand.

Self-esteem is adversely affected by the external environment, when an individual is not welcomed and feels excluded from everything, low self-esteem cropped in thus lowering the self-confidence and as a result even carrying out the most common nursing practices becomes a problem (Krishnamurthy, 2004). I doubted myself a lot during my internship period. According to Browne (1979), low self-esteem can cause a person to develop poor self-confidence and they look down upon themselves as inferior compared to their colleagues.

Although I am pursuing a fulfilling profession, research reveals that it is laddered with emotion and stress. As a student of nursing, I should learn to develop shock absorbers for stress and self-esteem because I am going to meet them. To cushion myself against burnouts and exhaustion in the future, I must begin now. It is almost becoming normal to people and everyone will mention it lightly that stress and nursing co-exist peacefully in the practitioner but when stress is elevated it becomes hazardous and can negatively impact the responsibilities of a nurse. When nurses have prolonged stress, they can easily pass it to their patients and this is against the codes of conduct that govern the nursing profession (Browne, 1979).

The study conducted by Tropiano, (1997) supports this when he found out that an increase in stress among nurses directly relates to the level of compassion from the healthcare units. The lower the compassion, the more the stress among nurses, and vice versa. Tropiano advised that when patients are on the look for which healthcare center to attend, they should look for a hospital that shows much compassion to their nurses because they are the bedrock of a patient's recovery. Nurses and students, though have very minimal measures to curb stress and reduce its effects on their health, should know that their coping behavior is crucial in reducing their level of stress ("Social Status, Performance, and Managing Stress," 2013, p. 456).

Conclusively, a conception that health is multifaceted, ambiguous, broad, and complex is demonstrated in this essay. Numerous definitions of health that have included other factors like beliefs, virtues, customs, norms, traditions, religion etc were explicitly incorporated and compared. The essay also included my definition of multidimensional health. This essay discussed the factors that affected my holistic health pattern when I joined the institution of higher learning, the kind of stress that I had to bare to keep the dream of becoming a nurse alive in me and to never fail the hope of my struggling mother. The essay highlighted how my unsupportive and unfriendly supervisor made me go through the pangs of neglect during my first internship. The essay highlighted the long effects of stress on the nursing profession and proposed a few ways through which stress can be managed especially in a healthcare setup. Advantages of maintaining an exemplary health state have been examined and factors affecting an individual's health condition.  Even though the topic of health and well being is broad, future essays should aim to examine an individual's body, spirit and will contribute to health status. More research should be done so as to help with a more inclusive definition of health.


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October 05, 2023




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