I am an extraordinarily lucky nurse to be able to work from home most days of the week. Often I use a educational podcast for background noise. After years of working in a chaotic environment, full of people and alarms, I need a bit of background noise to help me work. Recently, I came across a great podcast specific to nurses. This podcast reflects many of my own professional beliefs.
See You Now is an exceptionally well done podcast, focusing on nursing innovation and the important impact nurses have on the medical field. I am not an affiliate. No one is paying me to write this. When I stumbled across this podcast it really hit home for me. I too am a nurse who wants to do more with my career. I feel strongly nurses should be represented differently both in the healthcare system, and in the media. Nurses are under represented in our own workplaces, in the media, in our universities. Often we are represented as the nice woman who stayed at a patient’s side and comforted them. In movies we bring patients their pills and water, or just stand at the side of a physician.
Yes, a nurse is that person. However, that is a very small fraction of our daily work. The enourmous skill set nurse’s have are not represented well by the descriptions seen in commercials, TV, and movies. So who are we as a profession?
What is the true importance of the nurse? When I think of my professional career as a nurse, this is what I feel nurses are.
Nurses are innovators.
We come up with ideas, process improvement, tools, and ways to take care of patients, and to keep patients safe.
Nurse’s care for a patient and the family
Behind the scenes, we are assessing not only the patient, but the patient’s family and their home environment.
Nurses are advocates
We practice a firm assertiveness in order to keep our patient’s safe in a very intense, high stress environment.
Nurses absorb stress
We put aside their own emotions to deal with situations the general public should never have to see. Always supporting patients and their family during the hardest of times.
Nurses are scientists
We are inventing new processes to keep patients safe, and to implement better work flows. Nurses are using scientific evidence in their practice every single day to allow patients to recover from illness without complications. We are utilizing state of the art equipment, tools and medications, in order to keep patients alive.
Nurses are mechanics
Literally some sort of tool box is at every nurses station. If there’s not a tool…a nurse will make one. Our input is used when manufacturers develop medical equipment and systems.
Nurses and physcians are partners.
We are the eyes and ears for physicians, reporting even the smallest clues to help physicians make life saving decisions. Physicians rely on us for our assessments and input.
Nurses are teachers. We teach patients, their families, new nurses, and students. Even medical residents and physicians learn from experienced nurses.
Nurses run the hospitals
We essentially run everything related to patient care. But, our jobs aren’t limited to patient care. Nurses are involved in quality, safety, clinical documentation, education and leadership roles. Nurses jobs don’t stop at patient care.
Nurses are leaders
We hold many positions in leadership roles. We are charge nurses, supervisors, managers, directors and even Chief Nurse Officers.
We are inventors.
We participate in research. Our input, our assessment, our documentation is needed to evaluate and test anything new in the medical field. From medication studies, to innovative equipment and electronic medical records.
We cross international boundaries.
We go on mission work, taking care of patients all over the world. Helping those who normally don’t have access to advanced medical care.
We work on the field.
Trauma hospitals use nurses for medical transport. Saving lives on to go, by road and by air.
We work in schools and in the community
School nurses organize the overall health of hundreds up to a thousand students at a time. Providing screening and education for students and families. Nurses work in the community environment offering screening and education to a variety of individuals in need.
We now need to advocate for ourselves.
Nurses are professionals with an exhaustive skill set required to care for not only a patient as a whole, but to navigate through a highly technical, labor intensive work environment. Providing the best of care in stressful situations, all while keeping the patient feeling safe. As a profession in general we need to advocate for ourselves better. We need to demand excellence and healthy work environments. We are not merely shift workers. We play a key role in medical advancement in our daily work. I challenge leaders to critically think how to use your nurses to their full professional capacity. Think less about checking boxes off in daily tasks, think more about the big picture. Utilizing your nurses in formulating process improvement and new initiatives. Nurses, I challenge you to think outside of your daily work. How can you contribute to the advancement of your department, hospital or the field?
We don’t all have time to join groups outside of the hospital or earn advanced degrees. We all can’t take on roles that require long work hours in advanced leadership positions. We can answer surveys, speak up at meetings, invest solutions to our problems.
We can speak up, we can be heard. We can use our talent and creativity to show what we are really made of. Nurses, show them what you got!
I would like to here why you think nurses are important and what nurses have meant to your hospital, department, your family!