The 2005 Helene Hudson Memorial Lecture: Leaving our imprints: An exploration into the nurse-patient relationship

Cathy Kiteley, Dorothy Vaitekunas


Oncology nursing aims to promote physical and psychosocial well-being of individuals and families at risk for, or living with, a life-threatening illness. A basic component of nursing practice is the nurse-patient relationship (Canadian Nurses Association, 2002). This relationship has been shown to have a positive impact on individuals’ well-being as they journey through their cancer experience (Herth, 1995).

While the nurse-patient therapeutic relationship is fundamental to nursing care and may be quite subtle in its transaction, it is a complex phenomenon with every encounter being meaningful and impacting both the patient and the nurse. Reflecting on the nature of this relationship can facilitate a richer and deeper awareness of the unique contribution oncology nurses make in the lives they touch and are touched by.

This presentation will explore the therapeutic nurse-patient relationship in oncology nursing. The authors intend to facilitate selfreflection and increased awareness of both the art and science of the therapeutic relationship. In particular, qualities of the nurse-patient relationship, the importance of communication, both verbal and nonverbal, and the use of silence will be explored. We will incorporate theory, evidence, experiential learning along with storytelling, music, poetry and video images to convey our message.

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