Nurses have a plethora of great information at their disposal. They are the staff who is present with the patient around-the-clock. Nurses get to test out new equipment and are integral in practice changes. Why not ask them for their thoughts on how to make the profession of nursing a better place?
You know the drill- we go into the profession of nursing expecting to do one thing and then, once employed, find often times the environments are much different than we expected them to be.
I received a great variety of responses, some of which I found to be alarming. I’d like to share them here so that we could have conversation on the best ways to impact positive change. Here we go…
The question I asked specifically was, “What SURPRISED you about nursing once you’d been working in the profession for awhile?” The responses received included:
“That it is no longer about nursing; it’s just medicating and getting them out the door. When I first became a nurse I had the thought of making the world a better place. Now I take comfort in trying to make my patients lives a little more comfortable, a little less lonely and a little less scary for the 8 to 12 hours I am there. HOWEVER, the opportunity of doing that, at times, gets smaller and smaller. There are times I would really just like to be that advocate we are meant to be. Now I have taking my love of healthcare and am redirecting to the advocacy of my peers.”
“That it’s all paperwork and too many providers have become all about fitting patients in a “box” with their diagnosis. it’s all become algorithms and protocols and not about people anymore. Not everyone fits in a nice little box or algorithm. and the mass amount of paperwork takes away from the “caring”.”
“I think I was most surprised by how we, as Nurses, can be simultaneously so united and so divided. Luckily, all of my Units have been very much a family. However, when calling report to another unit (for example), I would often feel like we were working against each other from the interdepartmental perspective.”
From the above, we can draw some conclusions and base solutions around these themes. I, for one, am always about finding the solution in the discussion- rather than harping on the negative aspects of the issue. There can always be something learned from the struggles we face- even from those in the nursing profession.
To speak to the above, I would encourage all of nurses to do these things:
- While nursing, at times, can seem highly medicine based- we are the nurse. We must continue to hold dear to us why we went into nursing in the first place. As the first comment shares in the above, let’s focus on those bits of our practice that allow us to do these things. If you are able to advocate for a patient, teach a family member, or simply hold hands with a spouse- do those things when possible. A fellow nurse in our Art of Nursing community, shared how she massaged the scalp of a patient… if for only five minutes at a time… and found such benefit in doing so (for herself and the patient!).
- While the paperwork seems overwhelming, can we find the pro in whatever system we are in? The electronic record helps us weed out those awful orders in that terrible handwriting that we used to have decipher! The paper charting (if not on electronic yet) also has positives when we look for them. Yes, paperwork takes time and seems like we are unable to be with our patients as we want to be. Yet, what can we focus on or how can we get creative so that we do enjoy that healing relationship with the patient?
- The final comment illustrates a need for big picture thinking. Instead of being narrow focused in on our ‘own’ nursing unit (or team or patient), can we look at the bigger picture? How can we take a step back and approach with a bird’s eye view? When we do this, we can understand where each of our colleagues may be coming from and, then, relate to them a little bit better. This is one of the things that the National Nurse’s Week virtual conference, The Art of Nursing, aims to do. We present content that helps clinical staff take on a more world view of the nursing profession.
What did we miss? I’d love to hear additional suggestions from you in the comments below on how we can help your nursing teams love the profession of nursing again. Thanks for reading!
About the Author: As a keynote speaker, bestselling author and virtual conference host, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. During the National Nurse’s Week online conference, ‘The Art of Nursing‘, Elizabeth supports nurses in achieving professional goals of continued learning and development. Click here to find out more about how The Art of Nursing appreciates and celebrates our profession in a meaningful way.