Because many of you have shared, with me, that you would like a guest speaker to come and share his/her experience of conflict I have arranged for her to come and speak with you! It’s me. Like all of you, I once was a nursing student. I remember the thrill of passing the board exam and finally being recognized as an official “nurse”. It did not take me long to realize the great responsibilities that came along with this title once I started my new job. ‘The new nurse’ and ‘the new grad’ were common names that were assigned to me. Friendlier names like ‘the baby’ and ‘the little one’ I got used to. Although, deep down, I felt these names put me in a place of little power and having little to say, I kept quiet as I felt threatened by the possible ramifications that would follow if I confronted this matter. Most staff were quite accommodating and supportive, or at least that’s what I recall. There was one particular conflict that I had with a patient which took a huge toll on my emotions and made other conflicts seem insignificant.
“You Chinese people can go back to where you came from!” were the vivid words that were shouted at me on a Monday morning as I was washing a Caucasian man who was bedridden and had given me consent to provide care minutes before. “You boat people are dirty little whores!” he continued. My initial emotional reaction that I kept to myself was – ‘Well excuse me sir, first of all, I am not Chinese, and second of all, what gives you the right to treat me this way?’ Could it be his pain, his frustrations with life, or his racist attitude towards Chinese people? I remember taking a few steps backwards when he yelled at me and I told him that I will stop giving care if he continued to talk to me that way. He kept quiet. I continued to wash him and then he asked me if I knew how to speak English because I didn’t respond to his comments about being Chinese. I kept my silence as I quickly finished washing and left him in peace.
That same evening, I found out from the Social Worker that the client’s Chinese wife of 10 years left him recently after he had a stroke. The client spent a lot of his money to sponsor his wife to Canada in the past and worked really hard to support her throughout the years, being the breadwinner of the family. Now, the client barely has any money left and has no support systems in place.
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