Nursing Relationships

By Matt Hawkins
July 16, 2015

Bradley nursing major Megan Ewan ’16 is working a dream job as an intern for Mayo Clinic’s first-in-the-nation outpatient Pain Rehabilitation Center. 

Ewan, a Lake Zurich, Illinois native, dreamed of working in a top hospital since starting internship searches as a sophomore. She discovered the program early in her search and she jumped at the chance to experience life in one of the cutting edge hospital’s unique care units.

“I wanted to learn what made Mayo unique and how I could excel just like its health care professionals,” she said. “It’s a privilege to learn from the best of the best. I saw this internship as a gift I couldn’t refuse.”

The PRC is a chronic pain rehabilitation center that works with patients who have conditions such as fibromyalgia or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. It teaches patients pain management techniques like yoga, meditation or cognitive behavioral therapy, and assists patients who struggle giving up pain medications.

Ewan assists group therapy and yoga sessions. She also meets daily with patients to monitor progress in withdrawal from pain medication. Additionally, she occasionally is an aide to patients who need constant observation.

Because patients take several weeks to complete PRC’s treatments, Ewan sees patients work through the peaks and valleys of recovery. Patients wracked by pain come in hopeless and leave with new freedom to live. People in wheelchairs begin to walk while others on high pain medication doses are freed from the need to numb the pain.

“I’m so lucky I get my patients for three weeks because I see their lives transform,” Ewan said. “These people can get back to their lives and start living again. I feel blessed to be part of this transformation. Their success becomes my success.”

Mayo’s emphasis on personalized care changed the way she understands nursing. While nurses are often known for technical abilities Mayo lets skilled teams handle those duties while nurses focus on relationships.

As a result, Ewan is spending less time touching IVs and more time assessing situations through trusted conversations with patients. 

“I’m learning the one skill that’s so hard to teach — communication,” she said. “Nurses how have the time, and make it a priority, to talk with patients and get a feel for what really is going on.”

The summer at Mayo has encouraged Ewan to take the knowledge from her dream internship into the real world. She credited Mayo’s unique collaborative environment and mentors for showing her the impact she can make as a professional.

“Realizing that I can make a real difference as a nurse makes me all the more excited about my career,” she said. “I’ve seen the impact a good nurse can have as an advocate for patients, and I believe I can one day be that person.”