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A Conversation with Jurgita Stankūnienė, Lithuania's winner of QSNA 2023

Jurgita standing to the left

Jurgita, can you share your experience in the nursing field?

I've dedicated 24 years to nursing and have spent 15 of those years as an educator. I currently teach at Vilnius College, where I also lead the Nursing Department. For me, nursing goes beyond a profession—it's a lifestyle. There's an old magazine my mother saved that contains a story about me. When I was just four years old, journalists came to our kindergarten. They wrote about a little girl who always looked out for the other kids in her group. It seems that even back then, my innate desire to care for and help others was shining through, a trait that has stayed with me ever since.

Is creativity a part of being a nurse?

Absolutely, I view nursing as an immensely creative field! In my daily interactions with patients, I encounter numerous opportunities for innovation to make processes simpler and more comfortable. My goal is always to help those under my care maintain their dignity, self-esteem, and confidence to the fullest extent possible. I often notice a significant gap in resources that could enhance the independence of those who are ill. I'm brimming with ideas, and I'm grateful for platforms like the Queen Silvia Nursing Award, which provide a voice for those ideas. Participating in this award isn't new to me; I've submitted a total of 7 ideas over time. This year, I entered 4 ideas, and excitingly, two of them have reached the finals.

What inspired the idea that led to your victory?

At the heart of patient care, hygiene stands as a crucial element. It not only supports healing but also ensures a dignified existence when healing isn't an option. However, maintaining hygiene can be a formidable challenge. My winning concept is a mobile, bed-side hygiene station. This compact and easily adjustable table consolidates all necessary hygiene supplies in one spot, complete with instructions for patients suffering from dementia. I'm envisioning incorporating these instructions into an electronic format on a tablet, offering both visual and verbal guidance to enhance understanding and ease of use.

How does fostering a sense of independence impact patients with dementia?

Our daily routines, such as washing and combing our hair, play a significant role in our lives from the start. I've observed a transformative effect on patients after they are bathed; they seem to visibly brighten. The hygiene table serves not only as a valuable tool for caregivers but also empowers patients to partake in their hygiene practices. Facilitating conditions for patients to manage their own hygiene encourages their autonomy and helps maintain their dignity. Feeling less reliant on others, because they can care for themselves, significantly impacts their sense of self.

A crucial component of the hygiene table is the mirror. It's remarkable to witness the spark in patients' eyes when they see their reflection. Despite challenging circumstances, the desire to look good persists—people want to comb their hair, and women may wish to apply lipstick, fix their eyebrows, or put on earrings. These acts are essential parts of living, reinforcing the individual's identity and self-esteem.

Currently, there's a critical shortage of nurses not just in Lithuania but all across Europe. How do you find working with nursing students and inspiring them to pursue this challenging profession?

Nursing is by no means an easy task, which means we're always on the lookout for innovative ways to enhance how we work, necessitating a dose of creativity. While many aspects of medicine and nursing are steadfast, there's still ample scope for creativity. It's vital in nursing to forge a personal connection with each patient and devise solutions that cater specifically to their needs. This approach is what I strive to instill in my students—I aim for them to not only learn to perform tasks by rote but to view each situation through a personalized lens.

Those drawn to nursing arrive at their studies ignited by passion and inspiration. As an educator, my goal is to keep that spark alive. Nurses emerge from their studies brimming with fresh ideas, yet they might lack the confidence to bring these ideas to life. It's imperative for their more seasoned colleagues to offer not competition but encouragement and support.

Is it worth participating in the Queen Silvia Nursing Award competition?

Competitions and awards like the Queen Silvia Nursing Award are catalysts for nursing creativity, encouraging us to think ahead about how we can innovate within the nursing process, solve problems, or alleviate discomforts. The drive to enhance the quality of care and apply scientific innovations in our practice keeps us from becoming complacent or settling into routine. I'm glad I decided to voice my ideas and that they were heard. This recognition motivates me to continue believing in the significance of my contributions and their potential to help others.

The support and encouragement from colleagues, along with their valuable advice, also play a crucial role. The realization that progress depends on the contribution and effort of every professional spurs us on to improve continuously.

What do you think is the importance of such competitions?

I'm thrilled that I decided to share my ideas and participate in this competition. As nurses, we are intimately familiar with all aspects of the nursing process and are uniquely positioned to think of ways to make daily life easier for both our patients and ourselves.

I believe in my ideas and feel a great sense of professional satisfaction when I see that they have practical benefits. I am very eager to fully realize my concept. Thus, I am grateful that the competition organizers in Lithuania, and the nursing home "Addere Care," provide an opportunity to take another step forward by participating in a "Healthtech" accelerator. Here, experts from various fields will advise on the steps necessary to bring my idea to fruition.


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