The Role of Nurses in Heath Care

 By Professor G Sivakumar

The typical scene in a busy surgical ward is as follows:

In the midst of customary rounds by a surgeon, an anxious attendant asks how his mother Mrs A is, while another patient asks what food to take. The intercom rings and the OT staff wants the surgery patient shifted. The intern wants to know the lab results of Mr B. The dietitian wants to hand over the different diets while the pharmacist wants drug intent. In the midst of all this, she runs to attend a patient with hypoglycemia and another with seizures. In this situation, the ward nurse respectfully called nursamma completes all. The ‘Ashtavadhani’ keeps doing this all with a smile throughout the day and every-day.

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Nurses care for their patients selflessly, often working long hours under gruelling conditions expressing compassion and empathy to the sick. Nurses always provide excellent care, no matter what they are going through in their own lives.

Why nursing is a noble profession? 

The nursing career has often been called a noble profession because of this. They work selflessly in their care for others. In a medical emergency, the nurse meets the emotionally surcharged and anxious patient and gives instant confidence. Sometimes takes unfair blame and criticism from their hostile relatives. They must understand the emotional side of illness.  The profession of caring is passed from generation to generation.

Florence Nightingale:

international nurses day

The modern nursing practice dates back to many years, obviously due to need during epidemics and in treating war injuries. Florence Nightingale, the celebrated English social reformer paved the way of modern nursing. Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820. Her services helped thousands of men and reduced death.

She established St. Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. She was called “the Lady with the Lamp” and she devoted her life to the development of nursing as a profession. Her birthday is celebrated as the International Nurses Day around the world.

The many things that a nurse does:

The nurses primarily do the nursing duties which includes patient care, cleanliness of the sick. They routinely monitor patients’ vital parameters. A good confident explanation of patient’s medical condition to the individual is more than a sleeping pill or a painkiller. The nurse also must be on the lookout for the evolving symptom and sign of a medical emergency.

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The next important job is to maintain case sheets and take care of surgeon’s orders. They need to maintain records of the patient. They should explain discharge summary and explain to the patient the post-operative care, instruction and review dates.

The main point of contact for patients is the ward nurse. Patient counselling is very important and gaining the trust and confidence of each patient is an important aspect of the job for nurses. Nurses provide emotional support to patients and patients’ family members. Nurses role in health education like ‘change of lifestyle’ is invaluable. They may also teach individuals how to self-administer medication or complete other self-care tasks.

Dispensing and administering drugs as per Doctor’s order is a very important duty and difficult with hundreds of similar sounding drugs. Administering by needle should not be scary.

The customary rounds-when many instructions are passed on to the junior doctor and the nurses and they are effectively are carried out. The ’rounds’ break the communication barrier and is a very useful teaching exercise.

Preparing a patient for surgery or a procedure is a very important task and must be done with care and completing all instructions from consent to preoperative antibiotics with name and procedure cross-checked. The operation theatre nurse’s role is even more difficult especially when multiple surgeries take place. As an OT scrub nurse assisting major complicated surgeries, she needs a knowledge of the operative steps and technical details of all electrosurgical equipments.

Collecting investigation reports and affixing them to the case sheet is an important task. Intending drugs as per prescription and distribution of diets, milk to the patients is also an important duty.

The most difficult job is crowd management. Even with many restrictions and security staffs around, patients’ relatives throng the ward. They need to be politely explained and not chased out.  Special treatment care in acute care wards (IMCs), Trauma wards and post operative wards are jeopardised in the presence of surging crowd.

We require at least one nurse for four patients as per Indian Nursing Council norms. In some hospitals, this is overlooked and nurses are underpaid.

The future of healthcare largely depends on the white angels of the Nursing profession who need all the support and appreciation.

Pic courtesy: healthecareers