Knowing in Healthcare : Henrietta’s Story

Personal knowing is an important part of dealing with patient care in the nursing profession. The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks greatly points out the different scenarios that happen in patient care (Skloot & Go Big Read (Program), 2010).. The issues of dealing with the patients together with their family are highlighted largely. Patient care is thus shown in the way the doctors and other health care professionals especially the nurses deal with patients. In personal I know the story of Henrietta, especially her relationship with the doctors together with those who were taking care of the family and dealing with the various tests on her family. The doctors did not provide enough information to the lacks after they took cells from Henrietta. However, the doctors did not share the information with the family for a long time until they were informed through the media. It was not ethical for them to use the cells without the informed consent of the patient and the people. Her cells have contributed greatly to the health population in developing various important vaccines like the polio vaccines, which have greatly helped to control the diseases among little children.

What I have learnt from the story is that the doctors should use their positions to honestly deal with the patients and ensure that the various decisions made are in accordance with the consent of all parties. To be patient centered in care is thus important and further boosts the efforts of nurses and ensures that each nurse does the job correctly to ensure that patients are well taken care of (Chinn & Kramer, 2011). Dealing with the families of patients in the hospital is another important area that the healthcare practitioners need to consider. It is important for families to concentrate on the various issues associated with the treatment in place and dealing with the family in a way that is transparent especially if any cells or parts of the body are being used to study different phenomena. The doctors did not tell the families on what they had done on Henrietta’s body and they only discovered later which made them more tormented by the fact that they had not been informed and the medical fraternity had sought no consent.

John Hopkins had accepted to treat blacks, and was one of the best hospitals by then, and therefore in treating Henrietta in such a manner showed racism. As the story progresses in the immortal life of Henrietta, we see white scientists at the time exploiting the rights of the patient by taking her cells without informed consent. In lieu of this, I learn that it is important to respect all people who are in my care and further to make, them as equal and deserving of life as any other regardless of race or any other factors associated with people. Doctors should thus act in an appropriate manner in dealing with the various people who are associated with the patient and the families. As a nurse, therefore I have to deal with the family members of patients and ask for their person while at the same time ensuring that they know any progress or processes being conducted about their loved ones in hospital.

I have greatly learnt that informed consent is important as it helps the family deal with any development that may occur at the same time understanding why some of the processes or practices are being done on them. I have learnt that it is important not to take advantage of patients and at the same time to ensure that families of patients are in the place in the forefront in terms of receiving information that regards them or their family members in hospital. The scenario where the family of Henrietta contributed cells for research without their own knowledge caused a lot of trauma especially to the daughter who thought that she would die early because of the condition of her mother though she was wrong. Thus in knowing this I would prevent a procedure from being done on the patients without their consent (Maier & Shibles, 2011).

It is unsettling to conduct tests on individuals without informing them. Such people have been enriched greatly from such untoward behavior of carrying out tests on cells secretly. It was unethical and against the practice of medicine and nursing to conduct test on Henrietta and her family without them knowing.

Aesthetic knowing

Henrietta according to the book lives on through the cells that have made many breakthroughs in healthcare. Aesthetic knowing a brought about by the books develops an image of a champion who in this case is Henrietta lacks who died and her contribution to the medical fraternity was immense. In aesthetic knowing the nurse is in a better position to deal with the various patients in a sympathetic manner (Archibald, 2012). In the case of Henrietta the doctors first misdiagnosed her gave her the wrong treatment, which were the radium tubes. As a nurse, sympathizing with a patient as her gets treatment is important especially in dealing with the fears of the patient. The patient in this regard passes through a lot of pain and sorrow due to the cancer eating through her cells and organs.

 Cancer is not a disease that is treatable but can be controlled especially when detected early. As such putting yourself in the situation of Henrietta who was a symbol of hope for the future would greatly have helped her to deal with the situation. Medicine for dealing with cancer together with the equipment was not yet available especially that of detecting the disease in its early stage and to the utmost accuracy. Though she dies, she lives in the cells that were collected from and further gives inspiration to the researchers who are dealing with human cells in finding a cure for various diseases. As a nurse, I learn the art of staying with the patient and fighting through the various situations that they go through especially in cases of cancer. Cancer in this case can be seen as a monster, which mercilessly takes away the life of a person if not dealt with in the correct manner.

Aesthetic knowing in this regard is important as the nurse can further contribute to the wellbeing of the patient by giving encouragement and sympathizing with the patient and encourage him or her that though there is little pain the patient will be healed in the process. In giving aesthetic knowledge, more attention is given not only to the medication but also to other ways that can help make the patient comfortable (Kelley, 2013). As such aesthetic knowing come about when the nurses can clearly point to various issues facing the patient like mood changes and further deal with them especially in making the patient more comfortable. Such practices can include manipulating pitch to suit the patient, choice of words, hand gestures and facial expressions to deal with the condition she is in. knowing her situation in terms of her mental and physical and doing the necessary practices including rightly communicating to her is important. Therefore, a patient is usually a person who is either under duress in the hospital and dealing with the various conditions around harm or her further brings in an important part of the treatment of her condition. Taking the attention away from the condition and concentrating more toward hope gives the patient more energy to hold on to the encouragement given by the nurses.


Knowing is thus important in nursing. It assists the nursing profession come up with different unique ways of dealing with patient that are mostly geared towards patient centeredness. More nurses than ever before can therefore carry out their practice in a caring manner especially about the feelings and inclinations of a patient and thus help the patient accept the treatment and take it positively instead of complaining. Such a culture when developed changes the completely nursing profession together with other healthcare professions and boosts patient’s confidence of a quick recovery.

Get Your Custom Paper From Professional Writers. 100% Plagiarism Free, No AI Generated Content and Good Grade Guarantee. We Have Experts In All Subjects.

Place Your Order Now
Scroll to Top