UNSELFISHNESS, though essential, is not enough to make a proficient nurse. Good nurses also need extensive training and a breadth of experience. One essential requirement is from one to four years or more of study and practical training. But what qualities make a good nurse?
“The doctor heals, but the nurse cares for the patient. This often requires building up patients that have been damaged both inside and outside when, for example, they are informed that they have a chronic disease or will face imminent death. You have to be a mother to the sick person.”—Carmen Gilmartín, Spain.
“It is necessary to be able to feel the pain and anguish that the patient feels and to want to help. Kindness and long-suffering are needed. You must always want to learn more about nursing and medicine.”—Tadashi Hatano, Japan.
“In recent years nurses have needed more and more professional knowledge. Therefore, the desire to study and the ability to understand what is studied are essential. Also, nurses need to make speedy judgments and to take swift action when the situation demands it.”—Keiko Kawane, Japan.
“As a nurse, you have to show warmth. You must be tolerant and show empathy.”—Araceli García Padilla, Mexico.
“A good nurse must be studious, observant, and extremely professional. If a nurse is not self-sacrificing—if he or she has a selfish streak or resents advice from others higher up the medical hierarchy—that nurse will become unsuitable both for patients and for colleagues.”—Rosângela Santos, Brazil.
“Several qualities are indispensable: flexibility, tolerance, and patience. You also have to be open-minded, with the ability to get on well with your colleagues and the medical hierarchy. You have to be quick to assimilate new skills in order to remain efficient.”—Marc Koehler, France.
“You must love people and really want to help others. You have to be able to cope with stress because in the nursing world, it is all or nothing. You must be adaptable in order to do the same work when at times you have fewer fellow workers—without compromising quality.”—Claudia Rijker-Baker, Netherlands.
Nursing in Today’s World states that “nursing is concerned with caring for the person in a variety of health-related situations. Thus, we think of medicine being involved in the cure of the patient and nursing with the care of that patient.”
(Source: 6. Collins, M. S., Ed. (2003). Teaching/Learning Activities for Rural Community-Based Nursing Practice. Helene Fuld Summer Institute for Rural Community Health Nursing. Binghamton, NY, Decker School of Nursing, Binghamton University.)
Hence, a nurse is a caregiver. Obviously, therefore, the nurse has to care. Some time ago 1,200 registered nurses were asked, “What’s most important to you in your work as a nurse?” Providing quality care was the answer that 98 percent gave. Sometimes nurses underestimate their value to the patients. What are the joys of nursing? The answer to that question will depend on a person’s field of nursing activity. Midwives, for example, feel rewarded with every successful birth. “It’s wonderful to deliver a healthy child whose development you have supervised,” says one midwife from the Netherlands. Jolanda Gielen-Van Hooft, also from the Netherlands, says: “A delivery is one of the most beautiful things that a couple—and a health worker—can experience. It is a miracle!”
Rachid Assam from Dreux, France, is a State-certified nurse anesthetist in his early 40’s. Why does he enjoy nursing? Because of “the satisfaction of having contributed to the success of an operation and of being a member of a profession that is fascinating and constantly progressing,” he says. Isaac Bangili, also from France, said: “I am touched by the expressions of thanks we receive from patients and their families, especially in emergency situations when we manage to recover a patient for whom we thought there was no hope.”
One such expression of thanks was sent to Terry Weatherson, mentioned earlier. A widow wrote: “I cannot let the occasion pass without referring once again to the relief that we gained from your calm, assured presence throughout Charles’ illness. Your warmth was a shining light, and it became a rock from which we gained strength
Why The Shortage?
But along with the joys of nursing come many challenges. There is no room for mistakes! Whether giving medication or drawing blood or inserting an intravenous device or even simply moving a patient, a nurse must be extremely careful. He or she cannot afford to slip up—and this is especially true in lands where litigation is common. Yet, sometimes the nurse is placed in a difficult situation. For example, suppose the nurse feels that a doctor has prescribed the wrong medication for a patient or has given orders that are not in the patient’s best interests. What can the nurse do? Challenge the doctor? That requires courage, tact, and diplomacy—and it carries an element of risk. Sadly, some doctors do not take kindly to suggestions from those they view as subordinates.
What have some nurses noted in this regard? Barbara Reineke from Wisconsin, U.S.A., a registered nurse for 34 years, told a magazine interview “A nurse must be courageous. First of all, she is legally responsible for any medications that she administers or treatments that she performs and for any harm caused by them. She must be able to refuse to carry out an order from a doctor if she feels it is out of her scope of practice or if she believes that the order is incorrect. Nursing is not what it was in the days of Florence Nightingale or even 50 years ago. Now the nurse needs to recognize when to say no to the physician and when to insist that the doctor see the patient, even if it is in the middle of the night. And if you are wrong, you must be thick-skinned enough to take any ridicule you might get from the doctor.”
Another problem nurses have to face is violence on the job. A report from South Africa says that nursing personnel “are recognized as being at higher personal risk of abuse and violence in the workplace. In fact, nurses are more likely to be attacked at work than prison guards or police officers and 72% of nurses don’t feel safe from assault.” A similar situation is reported for the United Kingdom, where 97 percent of nurse respondents in a recent survey knew a nurse who had been physically assaulted during the previous year. What causes this violence? Often, the problem comes from patients who are on drugs or who have been drinking or who are under stress or who are affected by grief.
Nurses also have to contend with burnout caused by stress. Staff shortages are one factor. When a conscientious nurse cannot give adequate care to a patient because of work overload, stress soon builds up. Trying to fix the situation by skipping breaks and doing overtime seems only to lead to more frustration.
Worldwide many hospitals are understaffed. “We lack nurses in our hospitals,” says a report in Madrid’s Mundo Sanitario. “Anyone who has needed health care recognizes the importance of the nurses.” What was given as the cause of this shortage? The need to save money! The same report stated that Madrid hospitals had a deficit of 13,000 nursing professionals!
Another reason given for stress is that shifts are often too long and wages too low. The Scotsman stated: “More than one in five of Britain’s nurses and a quarter of nursing assistants have a second job to make ends meet, according to the public service union, Unison.” Three out of 4 nurses feel that they are underpaid. As a result, many have considered leaving the profession.
There are a number of other factors that contribute to the stress of nurses. Judging by the comments that a survey obtained from nurses around the world, the death of patients can have a depressing effect. Magda Souang, from an Egyptian background, works in Brooklyn, New York. When asked what made her job tough, she answered: “Watching at least 30 terminal patients whom I had cared for closely die in a period of ten years. That drains you.” Little wonder that one source says: “Continually investing oneself in patients who die can take a tremendous toll on personal resources.”
Certainly, the negative thoughts implicated by the society with regards the challenges and the labors that nurses are involved with makes it harder for the young ones today who are within the American society to realize the importance of the said profession. With the diagram that follows, it is showed how the nurses themselves view their own jobs that primarily affect how the society views it as well.
This diagram clearly shows how the nurses are trying to fair with their jobs even with less people in the staff. This particular view actually affects how the society understands their job as well. Thus, the interest of some upon actually becoming nurses is gradually lost as they begin to realize how the nurses are trying to face all the necessary jobs that they are expected to complete with regards caring for their patients, as well as to how the society actually understand the challenges and hardships of the said job.
True, everyone recognizes the importance of their presence within the healthcare community, however, the fact that they are undergoing a real hard-to-deal with situation especially during emergencies and other patient-attendance requiring special care that usually involves the so-called “gross” jobs for many, there are already only a few among the population in the society today who are directly interested in becoming a part of the nursing community.
What the Future Holds For Nurses
The growth and influence of technology increases the pressures in the field of nursing. The challenge is to reconcile technology with humanity, the humane way of dealing with patients. No machine can ever replace a nurse’s touch and compassion. One journal states: “Nursing is an everlasting profession. . . . So long as humanity exists, there will always be a need for caring, compassion, and understanding.” Nursing fills that need. At the International Council of Nurses Centennial Conference in June 1999, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, director-general of the World Health Organization, said:
“Nurses, as the key health professionals, are in a unique position to act as powerful advocates for a healthy planet. . . . As nurses and midwives already constitute up to 80% of the qualified health workforce in most national health systems, they represent a potentially powerful force for bringing about the necessary changes to meet the needs of Health for All in the 21st century. Indeed, their contribution to health services covers the whole spectrum of health care . . . It is clear that nurses are the backbone of most health care teams.”
The president of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, gave special praise to the nurses of Mexico in a speech in which he said: “Day after day all of you . . . devote the best of your knowledge, your solidarity, your service to preserving and restoring the health of Mexicans. Day after day you take to those who need it not only your professional help but also the comfort that comes from your kindly, committed, and deeply humanitarian manner. . . . You are the largest segment of our health institutions . . . In each life saved, in each child vaccinated, in each assisted birth, in each health talk, in each cure, in each patient who receives attention and solid support, there is present the work of our nursing staff.”
How the Issue is Proposed to be Solved
Many executives within the healthcare industries have actually proposed numerous systems with which they could save the industry from falling apart because of nurse shortages. Understandably though, it could be observed that such propositions would only work if the parties involved would actually realize the need to focus on the said matter and thus cooperate within the proposed systems. The diagram the follows show one of the major approaches in solving the problem that is proposed to healthcare industries today.
This diagram showcases the four major aspects that needs to be implied within the system as the issue on nursing shortage is expected to be solved. It is constantly appealing on how the four aspects actually make the solution more acceptable and proficient in terms of creating ways to make nurses more competent in their jobs as well as raising interest among others to take the challenge of becoming an important member of the healthcare industries.
It is strongly undeniable that although the society understands the importance of nurses in the development of the entire human community, only a few actually want to become one of the said forces of healthcare industry. Likely, it could be observed that the courage and strength to face challenges that all nurses have to have is what is making others feel uncomfortable with the said profession. This is the reason why in the solution proposed herein, it is undeniable that nursing is shown s a highly regarded profession that primarily receives honor from the entire society. This particular approach does not only attract the interest of others to join the said society of caregivers, but also serves as a motivational tool for those who are already within the said service.
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