What does nursing mean to you? “Nurse” is a broad term used to describe a healthcare worker who performs patient-based care in a variety of settings. A nurse's duties and title will vary depending on educational background, certifications and licenses. In the United States alone, there are about 2.6 million nursing professionals. Even in tough economic times, the demand for qualified nurses is still strong. The reason is clear: hospitals and patients recognize the need for very special people that can take on such a laborious duty with a passion for serving and healing.
Over the past year, we have asked nurses across the country what inspires them. Here are just a few of their responses:
Darren F. responded, “When patients walk out of the hospital with an understanding of their condition and hope for the future. That's what inspires me.”
Kelsey S. told us, “To me, healthcare is synonymous with life care. As a healthcare worker in the NICU you literally can see life being brought to a patient and being taken away too soon at times. What inspires me is how my coworkers provide immense empathy and compassion for these tiny lives and their loving families. I'm also inspired by the fight and strength of my patients.”
Kristyn L. said, “As an ER nurse I get to help people in all stages of life. I get to help save lives and touch lives everyday I work. To see the love and hope of a family member as you try to save their loved one, or be thanked for giving such compassionate care is what inspires me to provide excellent patient care. To be reminded that I want my patients to be treated as if they were my family member. There is no greater reward for this career than that.”
Gloria L. responded, “As an ER nurse I have the compassion and conviction for the treatment, safety, and recovery of people. I am firmly committed to treating all patients with dignity. I will never know everything but embrace being a life-long learner, meeting and adapting to the unknowns of the dynamic world of healthcare. That is what inspires me.”
National Nurses Week
On May 6th of this year, the United States will dedicate a week to acknowledge and thank nurses for their hard work and dedication to patient care during National Nurses Week (May 6 - May 12, 2013). But why wait? If you have recently been hospitalized or have visited a friend or family member who has, you can attest to how difficult this job is and how dedicated many clinicians are when they approach their work, day in and day out. For those of you who are nurses reading this post, we don’t need to go into all of the hats you wear on the job… but for the sake of honoring you, we will anyway.
Wearing Many Hats
Mikaelyn L. wrote to Tangent Medical, “Healthcare professionals have the privilege to work with people in a very intimate way that can quickly form a close bond; to go from stranger to caregiver upon meeting is really a unique role nurses have. For me creating this bond through the care I give is immensely challenging and rewarding.”
Let’s focus on the nurse’s role of educator when working in the hospital. The nurse on duty is usually the first resource to speak with the patient about what to expect during a hospital stay. Patients can be hurting, scared and uncomfortable. It’s often the nurse’s job to speak with the patient, teach them about the healthcare process, and calm their fears.
Megan K. explained, “What inspires me about patient care is making a positive difference to the patient and their family members during their hospital stay. Sometimes taking an extra five minutes to sit down and talk with the patient and let them express their feelings and concerns can make a world of difference to them.”
Nurses also act as teachers in the case of their coworkers. They educate fellow nurses as they set an example in patient safety. They are the invaluable keeper of the local electronic medical record system. Of course, nurses educate each other when it comes to tips regarding the behavior and personality of their patients! Without the nurses functioning as fill-in educators, most hospitals would have no way to function efficiently or keep the flow moving.
For the greater part of the days and nights in hospitals, nurses are the main source of patient care. Nurses ensure adequate nutrition and hygiene, prepare patients for admission and discharge, and keep accurate records of care. In the absence of a physician visit or diagnostic test, it is the nurses that actively dispense the medication all throughout their 12-hour shift, to on average 5-6 patients at any given time. Although physicians have the responsibility to put in orders and ensure that their patients receive the appropriate daily medication throughout their hospital stay, it’s often the nurses that complete this caretaking task. Some patients require more than a dozen different daily medications that are to be administered at various hours and in multiple ways – and it’s up to the nurse to keep track and ensure each dosage is correct.
Starting and managing IV therapy is a big part of nurses’ medicine dispensing task, and if not well trained and experienced, it can pose future complications and safety risks for both the clinician and the patient. There are many dangers in having patients in bed for extended periods of time - veins clot, pressure ulcers form, muscles weaken and if not following best practices, infection can set in. Nurses prevent these issues and routinely check patients for any signs of discomfort. But, patient care doesn’t end there.
Health Care Provider
A nurse’s role in the hospital is complex and varied. When it comes to health care, nurses are growing in numbers and have taken on many of the roles once reserved exclusively for doctors. Although a doctor is considered to be the primary health care provider for a patient, in reality, it’s the nurses that have their hands full with the countless responsibilities that come with working on the front-line of health care duty.
For instance, if a patient is admitted with a history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and with recent episodes of intermittent chest pain; it’s the nurse that files that information away in their brain. Say that this same patient wakes the next morning and begins to feel chest pressure, pain in his left arm, sweatiness, and nausea. Who do you think is first at the bedside? Of course, it’s the patient's nurse who has the immediate responsibility of identifying the classic signs of heart attack and initiating life-saving medical care. As the first responders of healthcare, nurses need to be nimble; quick to see the signs of allergy, stroke, heart attack, blood clots, infection, and incompatibility of medicines. Their disposition and care toward each patient has a big impact on healing and recovery.
Renee A. said, “I am inspired to put a smile on my patient's faces. People are in the hospital because something is wrong, so if I can lift their spirits and make them laugh then I feel as though I've done a good job. I am also inspired to treat my patients like they are my family members. I would want the best care for my family, so I give the best care to my patients because they are someone else's family member.”
Throughout history, the culture of medicine has revered the role of a physician as the core to patient care and medical recovery. Yet absolutely no care would be delivered without the critical role of a nurse.
At Tangent Medical, we value the role of nurses and want to aid them in helping them be safer and more efficient on the job, including providing better patient care and clinical outcomes. We thank the nurses who are following our Facebook and Twitter pages for their continued feedback and insights.
In closing, we encourage you to never forget to thank all the nurses that have ever cared for you, will care for you, or that you know have just gotten off their 12-hour shift. If you are married to one, rub their feet. If you are one, we hope you are feeling the love today.