Nurse the way
Nurses are becoming more specialised and their role has expanded far beyond that of a caretaker, says Usha Banerjee
The history of nursing is an epic involving service and sacrifice, trials and triumphs, achievements, ambitions and aspirations. And the proud legacy has been continuing as nurses across the world broke ground and the proverbial glass ceiling redefining the design, definition and delivery of healthcare.
Nursing has evolved from an occupation to a profession and has become the heart and soul of the Indian healthcare sector. Today nurses work in tandem with doctors and are supposed to help them with their observation, analysis and preempt medical emergencies. While providing ongoing evaluation of people’s health, they help the doctors in making accurate diagnosis with their sharp observation skills and vigilance. Many lives have been saved because an attentive nurse picked upon early warning signs of an upcoming crisis like cardiac arrest or respiratory failure and are regarded as true partners in care.
Interestingly, the field of nursing was not like this always. The profession has undergone tremendous changes since past decades and today, it is seen as wholesome medical occupation and a very critical and integral part of modern treatment process — both within the hospitals and outside it.
Beyond hospitals, nurses are needed for home care of critical patients, they are required in educational institutions and sports facilities as well in order to provide the much needed first aid during the golden hour period.
With evolution of tele-medicine, another aspect has been added to the profession of nursing, where they are providing the much needed counselling to people in distress over telephones.
Today nurses are being trained for various departments within the hospitals. Right from cardiac care units, dialysis wards to ICUs and paediatric care units, the courses in nursing these days are catering to specific requirements of each branch of treatment. There are a wide variety of nursing programmes, specialties, degrees, doctorate and certifications where nurses are taught not only the basic health care skills, but also the medical subjects and hospital etiquette.
They are provided training in various soft skills, which helps them handle patients in more humane way in an environment of immense pressure.
Technology has changed dramatically with the advent of the connected machines and a digital world. Technology has also begun to change the methods used in the actual bedside nursing care. It allows nurses to measure vital signs quickly, record information efficiently, and to administer medications.
Nurses are becoming more specialised and their role has become more than that of a caretaker for patients. They assess the condition of patients and provide the first hand information to the doctor.
Often, it is a nurse who ensures that a critically ill patient gets his medicines and prescribed nutrition at the right interval and in right doses. Mostly it is a nurse who monitors and operates various machines and gadgets attached to the patient and her sharp observation skills are always there to preempt the emergency situation.
Meanwhile, the humane aspect of nursing adds further value to the ever-evolving aspect of healthcare. Nurses are an embodiment of humanity as they create bridges that cut across the boundaries created by nations, culture, race, religion, sex, status etc. The array of emotions nurses witness and manage is phenomenally diverse.
Technology often enables the profession by providing nurses more time for providing a personalised care. It also allows her to counsel the family members in case of critical care for the patients.
Like several other professions, Indian nurses are respected for their work ethics and caring attitude all over the world. No wonder, Indian nurses are given a preference in many countries including Europe, Middle East and North America. As Middle East started facing crisis, the Indian nurses discovered Australia and New Zealand as their next career prospects. The major reason for the recruitment of Indian nurses abroad is that they are skilled and have good command over spoken English. In addition to this, they are less costly as compared to the other parts of the world. It is assumed that demand for nurses will continue to increase dramatically for many years to come.
However, Indian Medical Association, recently also said that the much earned respect by Indian nurses in other countries is also causing shortage of nurses in India. Presently, India is facing a shortage of more than two million nurses and the number is expected to increase, given the high rate of migration of nursing professionals.
Traditionally, nursing was a female dominated profession but in the past one decade, many men have also joined the profession and they are fulfilling their duties with equal responsibility and care. Growth of tele-medicines and home care have further added to this trend.
When it comes to nursing as a career choice, men and women are equally capable of handling the physical, mental, and emotional demands that a career in nursing presents. It is important that awareness is raised that both men and women can be successful nurses and both have the equal right to work and earn a livelihood.
Healthcare today is at a tipping point. We are witnessing an evolution of a revolution with increased disease burden, technology taking centre stage, insurance boom, growing consumerism, increased patient literacy, proliferation of public private partnership, corporatisation of healthcare and media attention.
Amid all these, our nurses continue their commitment of being on the forefront of the changing healthcare landscape. Leveraging technology to support the healthcare environment will be a constant endeavour by Indian nurses.
The writer is group nursing director, Apollo Hospitals Group
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