Connecting Through Patience and Understanding

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From the moment she had her first clinical experience in the behavioral health area in 2002, RN Dolores Beckinger knew this would be the focus of her career. The depth and breadth of issues within patients requiring behavioral health, combined with Beckinger’s pull toward helping those with mental diagnoses and challenges, was a perfect fit back then and still is today.

“So many people out there struggle with mental health conditions; if they don’t seek help they suffer in silence,” Beckinger says. “Since my first exposure to this population of patient I enjoyed it because I felt we were making a difference, every day.

“There are so many people falling through the cracks due to the way health insurance is today. I feel particularly sad when I see young kids, maybe college students, who don’t know what’s happening to them. What happens during this time, when they are seeking help, will impact their future and change the course of their lives.”

While Beckinger has a passion for helping those with mental illness, her innate and growing interpersonal skills make her especially effective in building a trusting relationship. This is particularly important in her role at Kingswood Hospital in a chronic care unit for men. Her ability to understand the verbal and nonverbal cues shown by each patient allow her to know how best to develop this relationship. Her methods personify the “A” in the AIDET +1 model: Acknowledge the Backstory.

“Dolores always relates to her patient’s in a way that encourages a relationship; she believes that a good relationship between nurse and patient is essential to the patient’s healing in every way,” says Nurse Manager Judith Pegg. “Dolores demonstrates appropriate boundaries to assure that the focus of the relationship is on the patient’s needs.

“Also, Dolores is astute at building a trusting relationship with her patients. They are built on confidentiality, empathy and support. Dolores is self-aware, generous, non-judgmental, warm and respectful to all of the men she treats, as well as to the peers she works with daily. She knows that respecting an individual’s culture and ensuring open-mindedness encourages acceptance between nurse and patient. This allows her to make sure her patient’s needs are met while remaining in her professional role.”

Pegg adds that many patients enter the hospital in very psychotic conditions that include acute anger issues, which are expressed as aggression. She has seen Beckinger respond to these patients with patience and understanding, doing all she can to improve their comfort level while respecting their verbal or nonverbal boundaries. This is the result of Beckinger’s very real empathy.

“Being nonjudgmental is important,” Beckinger says. “I really feel for the people who are going through this. I believe we are all one step away from needing behavioral health, depending on the events that happen in our lives.”

That philosophy of the fragility of life helps to keep Beckinger in the moment and helping those she cares for at Kingswood. It is something she has learned from Pegg, whom Beckinger refers to as her inspiration and role model. She credits Pegg with providing her with mentoring that has helped her aspire to be her best. It is a combination that is working, as is evidenced by the feedback from patients of Beckinger’s.

“Often, at the end of their stay, our patience praise Dolores, her kindness, understanding and caring,” Pegg adds. “Most of our patients will tell you at discharge that they not only benefitted by the treatment they received at Kingswood, but by being cared for by Dolores, who consistently provided them with a culture of caring.”