ORANGE >> Professor Linda Honan says she is \u201chaunted\u201d by the memories of patients she has cared for and wants her students at the Yale School of Nursing to remember theirs as well. So for about 20 years, Honan has asked her students to keep a journal of their experiences, to write when they have \u201crestless dreams\u201d or thoughts about their patients that just won\u2019t go away. \u201cI wanted them to leave bread crumbs of their experiences,\u201d she said. Reading them later, \u201cyou are automatically transported back to that room.\u201d Honan\u2019s students, who are studying to be advanced practice registered nurses or nurse-midwives, have all received degrees in unrelated fields. The three-year program, Graduate Entry Prespecialty in Nursing, is \u201cnot only intellectually rigorous, it is emotionally rigorous and we put them into situations that would be intimate among lovers, much less strangers,\u201d she said. \u201cI wanted them ... first, to be thoughtful and reflective about the care they provide. They\u2019re not empty vessels that it is my job to fill.\u201d The journals are not an assigned part of the curriculum, but students who choose to write are encouraged to submit a sample for the Griswold Home Care Creative Writing Awards, created by Honan. Three winners are chosen each year. \u201cI wanted the public to see what the profession is, but I also wanted the patients to see the impact (they) have on us,\u201d Honan said. This year\u2019s winners, who each will receive a $1,000 prize, are: \u2022 Chimene Diomi, who will graduate in May as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner. \u2022 Jessica Kelly-Hauser, a second-year student specializing in acute care. \u2022 Elizabeth Renker, who will graduate as a pediatric nurse practitioner in 2019. Author and cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson will be the keynote speaker when the awards are presented April 27 at the New Haven Country Club in Hamden. CHIMENE DIOMI, UPPER MARLBORO, MD. \u201cMy story is more looking along the lines of vulnerability, stigma, culture \u2014 bridging the gap between cultural differences and basically looking at how clinicians or nurses could do a better job of inspiring and empowering their patients,\u201d said Diomi, who emigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo at age 12. Diomi\u2019s entry was about a 15-year-old girl and Diomi\u2019s efforts to break through the wall of silence erected by the African-American girl, who had selective mutism. \u201cThe patient was a mirror image of myself,\u201d Diomi said. \u201cI\u2019m so used to ingesting everyone else\u2019s problems on a daily basis.\u201d She said she looked at the girl\u2019s medical chart and found nothing positive recorded. \u201cSo I wanted to focus on being mindful of what we say and write about our patients because they carry it from place to place.\u201d Eventually, by offering Snickers bars and modeling clay, she brought out the pain the girl was keeping in, holding her as her patient sobbed, \u201cletting out a cry that sent shivers through every increment of my body,\u201d Diomi wrote. \u201cAs I transferred her pain onto me, I remind her of her strength.\u201d Diomi said the experience \u201cwas liberating. I come from a culture where these topics are not discussed so I think my words could reach to someone else and inspire them to overcome or spread awareness.\u201d JESSICA KELLY-HAUSER, HOLLISTON, MASS. Addressed to \u201cMrs. B,\u201d Kelly-Hauser\u2019s piece took a more concrete approach, numbering the \u201clessons\u201d she learned while performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation for the first time in an unsuccessful effort to save Mrs. B\u2019s life. \u201cYou and I never met, but I was the short woman in navy blue scrubs who compressed your chest until her scrawny arms almost gave out,\u201d Kelly-Hauser wrote. \u201cFor 51 minutes we tried to save your life; they were the longest 51 minutes of mine.\u201d \u201cIt was nothing like I expected it to be,\u201d she said. \u201cIt was physically exhausting almost instantaneously. It was a little violent; it was a little numbing. I thought it would be emotional while I was doing it, but it was mechanical, at least for me.\u201d Kelly-Hauser said it wasn\u2019t until she went home for lunch that the emotions hit. \u201cI started crying and I started writing this as I was crying,\u201d she said. \u201cI wanted to write the piece to the woman because in this moment, in this experience, she was the person who taught me the various things I realized I\u2019d learned during that day. \u201cShe was the person I was talking to, to thank her, and I had never met her ... but I had very intimately been involved with her body. It was just strange,\u201d Kelly-Hauser said. She said writing about the experience brought closure to an otherwise \u201ctraumatic\u201d experience. ELIZABETH RENKER, CHESHIRE Renker wrote about a middle-aged patient who asked her for a shave, and how she had to keep putting him off because of having to clean him after multiple bowel movements, which were increasingly painful. The man, who had been in a crash while on his moped, was \u201cmedically complex,\u201d with multiple fractures and other issues. \u201cWe continue this cycle for hours, Mr. David and I. I clean him, apologizing profusely for the pain I cause, and he thanks me for being kind, for taking good care of him, for wetting his lips,\u201d Renker wrote. Finally, as her shift is ending, she is able to give the man a shave. \u201cI think for me it felt like it embodied everything nursing is: care of the patients, medicine, cleaning, but also emotional needs,\u201d Renker said. \u201cMr. David\u2019s\u201d desire for a shave \u201cwas one thing he could hold onto that was part of his identity and his dignity,\u201d Renker said. \u201cAfterwards, in the midst of the chaos, being able to give him that one request, to shave his face, made a huge difference to him. \u201cNursing in general can be very intense emotionally and writing really provides a way to process everything you\u2019ve dealt with in that day or that week. ... The writing is very cathartic.\u201d Call Ed Stannard at 203-680-9382.