I started off trying to define the role of a nurse, but after not being successful I realised this actually isn’t simple. So I changed direction and started to think about what I like about nursing.
Why is it important to define nursing?
Health and social care as an industry is a large employer of nurses, in Australia there are a total of 409,371 nurses and midwifes (https://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/About/Statistics.aspx sept 2019).
We all begin our careers with foundational roots either as –
- Enrolled nursing,
- Registered nursing or
Once qualified with these foundational skills they allow for opportunities to move into many different domains/roles within nursing. The opportunities of career pathways are not always linear and are varied with many branches, nurses can work in areas of- clinical, education, management, research and as nurse practitioners.
The role of nurses in health and social care is away from the traditional image of a nurse from a societal perspective, as what is often seen in popular media gives an inaccurate perception of the nursing profession.
World Health Organisations definition of nursing-
Nursing encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well and in all settings. It includes the promotion of health, the prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people (www.who.int 2020).
As a nurse, no two days are ever the same, during each shift I get to meet and interact with new patients. I sometimes think that patients are in gowns and their usual material items are not present and they are left with the bare minimum when in hospital. The person is not presented as their normal everyday self due to being unwell, for example they may be in a pale hospital gown instead of their own style of clothes, they are without their make up and they’re hair not done in a style that is unique to them, ultimately they are not in a way that an individual may identify themselves as.
Even if patients are in plain gowns, with unkept hair, I still see their character and that allows me to embrace their distinctiveness as that is never lost. Seeing the person before the illness and even more so to look beyond routine tasks is important, as hospitals are not easy places to be in, it takes any person a lot of courage to be in any kind of care setting.
Some of the stories I hear from patients through their years of life experience is just amazing, especially through times of challenge or crisis. Through them I understand everyone is unique and that life isn’t always neat & tidy, that gives me humility.
2. Work Colleagues
From my foundational beginnings as a student nurse and through my career to my current positions, I’ve observed nurses with vast experience. I saw how they attended to patients, how they interacted with relatives and even other members of the multi disciplinary team.
Sometimes I watched these nurses in awe, basically I wondered how they had the ability to treat a patient with grace or even how they handled a difficult situation with calmness, maybe that comes from experience.
Through observing them, unknowingly these nurses that I admire have taught me so much from their work ethic and from years of them refining their own skills. I know over the years I have implemented what I have learn’t from others examples into my own practice.
Over the years, I have gained some knowledge through the experiences of working on the wards and when I get the opportunity to teach/support a student or even a junior work colleague, I feel the passing on of some of my knowledge extremely fulfilling.
Healthcare & nursing has always fostered lifelong learning for critical thinking and problems solving skills, in the workplace environment the learner is exposed to real life situations as they are happening, I have to manage my workload as well as teach someone at times, which is an exciting challenge for me as I have to adapt to the learners needs. Teaching is a two way engage and there is a constant cycle of exchanging learning and teaching as the circumstances require.
4. Future Of Technology
Healthcare as an industry embraces developments and advancements in the way the patient receives quality care. Some past advancements have been vaccinations, antibiotics, anaesthetics during surgery, medical imaging and innovations in medications such as insulin.
In hospitals for many years now robotic assisted surgery (Da Vinci) has been used and have performed more than 6 million surgeries worldwide, the benefits are that it is more precise, less invasive and offers a safer procedure.
Many nurses are experiencing the biggest change being from traditional paper based medical records to digital systems such as EMR (Electronic Medical Records).
At present there is so much research occurring with new technologies, even though it is 2020 now, I am excited to see the direction that nursing will take and redefine how we will be working in the next 10-15 years.
A few innovations that are occurring in healthcare are –
- 3D-printed organs,
- Remote surgery,
- Virtual reality,
- Telehealth for remote/rural areas
These incremental improvements will shape the patients experience with providing better outcomes, greater convenience and hopefully for less cost to the patient.
Mind you even with the exciting new technological innovations happening, I still manage to lose my pen.
5. Different Disciplines In Healthcare-
Nurses are exposed and contribute with the many disciplines in both the hospital setting and in the community too. There are heaps of different disciplines working together such as doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietician, speech therapists etc, etc.
The multidisciplinary team brings together the different disciplines and contribute their views and recommendations with sharing of expertise. The team emphasis may be to communicate at times complex health or complex social needs, the patient is always a central part of discussions and the aim is for the best possible outcome for the individual patient.
I enjoy the collaborative manner as it brings everyone together and there is always a learning opportunity to be found.
Not being able to define the word ‘Nurse’ shows that nursing as a profession is complex, but the fundamental role of a nurse of ‘caring’ hasn’t changed over time, as empathy & compassion are still at every nurses core.
With all the different factors of work colleagues, teaching, technology and the different disciplines all linking together with the one united focus of the patient to thrive. As healthcare is evolving by using new technologies with new/improved treatment options, these changes transform and broaden the roles of nurses.
The future is promising, thanks for reading – Aussie Nurse