Prospero RN Darrica Brown on Building Trust With Patients
The following is a true story; the names of the patient and caregiver in this story have been changed to protect their privacy. Images do not represent their likeness.
Twenty years ago, Darrica Brown was hospitalized following a serious car accident. While recovering from the crash, Darrica had plenty of time to reflect on her life. She worked at a bank, and while she enjoyed the fast pace and financial rewards of her job, she didn’t feel particularly fulfilled. As the days passed, Darrica began to see herself in the faces of the nurses who were helping her along the path to recovery.
“I had a lot of great nurses taking care of me,” Darrica said. “They made a huge impact on my life, and I wanted to do the same for others. So, after I got out of the hospital, I immediately began applying to nursing schools. I’ve been a nurse for 17 years now.”
A natural caregiver
While her accident was the catalyst for her career in nursing, she began caring for others during her childhood. Darrica’s grandmother often struggled with her health, and as a young girl, Darrica was one of the first people at her bedside.
Her experience with her grandmother and during her accident have taught her a lot about the importance of connecting with people you’re caring for on a personal level.
“When I go into a patient’s home, I try to make them comfortable and establish rapport. Because if they don’t trust me, I might not find out what’s really going on. It’s not really that a person is hurting—it’s that they might have an issue with their spouse, or with one of their children.”
By establishing trust, Darrica helps patients and their families find their voice and understand their options. She appreciates how overwhelming it can be for people dealing with serious illness. They have to simultaneously manage medications, communicate with different providers, and process all the information being thrown their way. If Darrica is making a home visit and sees that a patient is unsure about something their doctor said, Darrica will immediately call the doctor to clear up any confusion. In this way, she helps to make their lives a little less complicated.
Prepared for the unexpected
Building rapport often leads to better outcomes for her patients. Last year, a patient named “Annie,” who suffers from diabetes, became sluggish and confused. The patient’s husband, “John,” immediately called Darrica when they needed help. Darrica was able to quickly assess the situation and recommended that Annie drink orange juice for low blood sugar while the paramedics were on their way to administer an IV.
The following week, Annie’s blood sugar dropped dangerously low again, and the family was forced to make another 911 call. Through extensive research, Darrica discovered the patient’s low blood sugar spells were being caused by a medication that should have been discontinued but somehow managed to slip into the bubble pack supplied by Annie’s pharmacy. Darrica contacted Annie’s primary physician and her pharmacy to ensure the medication would be discontinued, and she had John remove the pills from the bubble pack. Annie’s blood sugar levels have remained normal ever since. That’s the value of truly knowing her patients. Darrica isn’t just there for one incident—she builds relationships by taking the time to know the people in her care.
The Next Chapter
Sadly, Annie’s husband—and primary caregiver—passed away shortly after Annie’s low blood sugar incidents. Consumed with grief, Annie lost her appetite and started having trouble sleeping. Darrica took the lead again, this time by encouraging Annie’s primary physician to prescribe antidepressants “to get Annie over the hump.”
“Annie is doing well. She has four sons, and I’ve been in touch with all of them. They all know what to expect, how to manage her care, and when to call me if they need me. If something happens, they’ll call me.”
“Darrica showed she cared about what was going on with my mother,” praised one of Annie’s sons. “Checking on her, calling us back—it was Darrica’s job, but she went above and beyond, if you ask me.”