Years ago, a general misconception existed that the profession of nursing revolved around sponge baths and bedpans. I’d like to think that today’s public is more educated about the important role nurses play in the medical community. Yet, the truth of the matter is, unless you or a loved one has spent time in a hospital, you may not fully understand the breadth of expertise and knowledge that nurses bring to the table.
Nurses are on the frontlines of administering and evaluating your treatment. If you’re a patient, nurses are your greatest advocate. Because they spend more time with you, nurses can comprehensively moderate your progress. They know what symptoms might be a red flag and can assess the effectiveness of treatment. They then communicate all of this to your doctor. Keeping this open dialogue is just one of the countless things nurses do to ensure the quality of your care.
Nurses also provide invaluable emotional support. They understand the complexities and implications of an illness. They can counsel you and your family through everything from understanding a chronic condition to coping with death and dying. Their knowledge of illness combined with exceptional people skills provides comfort and stability. For many patients, this relationship is an anchor in the tumultuous waters of the hospital system.
Nursing is a true calling. It’s a physically demanding position; many nurses cycle through 12-hour shifts on their feet. They give up holidays with their families and work through nights and weekends. This selflessness is also reflected in their commitment to their patients.
Friday, May 6 marks the start of National Nurses Week. The theme of this week is “Nurses Trusted to Care.” I know that in my medical practice, I trust nurses for their opinions, feedback and instincts. If you know any nurses in your life, use today as an opportunity to thank them. Don’t be shy – make a visit, pick up the phone, write a letter to a hospital CEO. In today’s scrambling hospital environment, the caring touch of a nurse can make all the difference.