A healthy nurse has been praised by hundreds of people online after she had a nasal gastric tube inserted for the day – just so she could empathise with her patients.
Dorcas Boamah, 27, often has to insert nasogastric tubes into patients’ noses and down to their stomachs as part of her job.
She said patients were often nervous and asked her what it felt like – and she felt she couldn’t give them a truthful answer.
So the Royal Free Hospital nurse had a colleague fit the invasive apparatus on her face, and spent time at work wearing it, before travelling home by public transport.
Caring Dorcas said she now knows how her patients feel – especially when they get stares from strangers – and it has made her a better nurse.
The nutrition clinical nurse specialist posted photos of her experiment online, where she has gained praised from nearly 800 strangers.
She said: “I just wanted to see how it felt. Now I know so I can go back to my patients and tell them how it feels and what they can expect.
“I wanted to put myself in my patients’ shoes.
“Often patients old and young will need an NG tube, and many of them are nervous.
“Through education and knowledge I am able to understand how the tube works, and through research I understand how patients feel, and how it affects their quality of life.
“But I wanted to experience how patients feel so I could be more empathetic.
“I could say ‘yes it will be a little bit uncomfortable’ but I didn’t actually know.
“Now I do. It has definitely made me a better nurse.”
She had it fitted on January 7 and kept it in at work, while walking around the hospital, and on two trains and a bus home, before taking it out after her dinner at 9pm.
She said she felt “quite anxious” but realised that relaxing can help – knowledge she has taken into her work now.
“Now I really understand how taking an extra few moments to chat and relax the patient can make such a difference,” she said.
She said lots of people stared at her on public transport – but people also offered her their seats.
“It did make me feel quite isolated and tearful,” she said.]
“I found eating was quite uncomfortable.”
She said she posted it on her Instagram page in a bid to “normalise” NG tubes and added: “A lot of people live their lives with them and there is no reason to hide.
“It’s a very physical thing you can see on your face, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t live your life.”
Writing online, people praised her actions and photos.
feedingtube.fitness said: “oh my gosh!!!! you’re so amazing!!! wow! proud of you. i am so grateful for incredible nurses like you in the world!!!”
nakeysha_king said: “THIS IS SOOOO SO POWERFUL 🙏🙏💖 THANK YOU..😘😘😘IF ONLY ALL DRS NURSES ETC COULD BE MORE EMPATHETIC IT WOULD TRULY RESULT MAKE A DIFFERENCE. ❤️❤️ WILL HAVE TO HAVE A PEG TUBE PLACED IN TWO WEEKS AND I’M SCARED TO DEATH”
blueboobelle added: “This is amazing and very powerful. It’s something all nurses should be doing in their own fields, it’s so easy to dish out these things and understand the how and the why but this is the way you really understand the impact of this, I wish more people would do this.”