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GSN student Kathleen Schultz honored by Arnold Gold Foundation for essay on patient encounter

Doctor of Nursing Practice student reflects on conversation with dying combat veteran

Kathleen Schultz, MS

Graduate School of Nursing student Kathleen Schultz, MS, has been honored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for Humanism with the first prize for nursing students in its 2019 Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Healthcare Essay Contest. The third-year Doctor of Nursing Practice student wrote the winning essay, “Humanism Made Visible,” for an assignment to reflect on an interaction with a veteran for the GSN’s Veterans’ Health Interprofessional Education course.

“I have always had an interest in veterans’ health because I’ve known about the sacrifices of veterans from a young age as many of my family have either served or worked with veterans,” Schultz said

Schultz recorded her experience with a Vietnam War veteran who revealed his PTSD in what would prove to be his final hours. Her ability to connect with and make an impact on a patient through humanism and compassion allowed him to finally find peace after more than 40 years of mental anguish, she said.

Schultz will graduate from the GSN in 2020 with her degree in the adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner track. She works in the cardiac surgery intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. It was there that she had the patient encounter described in her essay.

“I recognize that by allowing a patient to unburden himself, he was, for once, at peace. It’s uncomfortable to be recognized for something that is not uncommon for nurses do with their patients,” Schultz said. “We push aside charting, eating and bathroom breaks to be able to provide this type of care to patients that need it. I have enjoyed, though, that after hearing my essay, people come up to me and tell me that I have affected their practice of interactions with veterans. That is the outcome I am most proud of.”

The Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Healthcare Essay Contest is named for Dr. Tang-Goodwin, a pediatrician whose devotion and generosity to the care of the children and infants with HIV infection in New York City was an inspiration to her colleagues and her students. This year, medical and nursing students were prompted to engage in a reflective writing exercise that illustrates an experience in which they or a team member worked to ensure humanistic care, inspired by the quote from the late poet and author Maya Angelou: “I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”

Schultz’s winning essay will be published in the October issue of the Journal of Professional Nursing.

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