WHAT YOUR NURSE WISHES YOU KNEW
As your nurse, I am designated to take care of you in all aspects of your life. There are a few things I wish you knew. This would really make your hospital stay a lot easier. You will never again shriek when the word admission is mentioned at the outpatient clinics.
Meeting your needs is my primary duty
My job entails ensuring that your needs are exhaustively met in the shortest time possible. Never hesitate to ask me questions or to inform me on how best I can meet your needs. I feel useful when I have taken care of the very things affecting you. Please don’t hide your needs, you are not doing me a favor or overworking me. I actually feel a bit demoralized when I find out about your discomfort and you didn’t let me know. You may wonder why, but this is how I get my job satisfaction and the feeling of doing a good job. After all, nursing is a work of mercy and not everybody can be a nurse.
I am ready to help you cope
My work as a care giver is to help you cope. Many times, a medical condition robs you of your independence to perform your personal needs. These drastic changes will have a psychological toll on you, sometimes resulting in angry outbursts directed at me. I will not run away since I have been through it before with many other clients. Some get well and regain their independence while we have to train others to make major adjustments in their lives especially in cases of paralysis. As a nurse, I have no problem giving you a bed bath, changing any soiled linens or even assisting you with a bed pan. I will walk with you on this road until you regain your personal independence as much as possible. If your family is affected, I will be there for them too.
I look at you holistically
I was taught to always look at you holistically since you are a system greater than the sum total of your individual parts. There are other aspects of life about you that are very significant. If any of them is affected, I will have to intervene though you may not see it as an issue at the moment. I am not just being nosy when I ask questions about your spiritual, mental, socio-economical and family circles. I will develop action plans aimed at ensuring that all these parameters are functioning optimally. Physical sickness might just be a starting point. You will get a great deal of help in these other areas of your life. Do not deny me this chance to make a difference. Do not feel you need to hide anything, I am very observant and I am here to help you, not judge you.
I remember you in my prayers at home
Many people say that they leave office issues at the office door. Nursing is different. I have never managed to do it. You are always in my thoughts and personal prayers. I desire that you may get help and be well since I know you are somebody’s mother, father, brother, sister or child. It affects me until sometimes I cry. Yes, I do get overwhelmed. I will not do it in-front of you since I do not want to discourage you. Keep fighting, we are in it together. I cannot get the nerve enough to admit it but you are always in my prayers. Mind you, they do work though sometimes not as I expect.
I want the best for you
I as your care give want the best for you. There are many others that also want to see you well but for me; your victory is my victory. This is the reason I make sure that every scheduled procedure is performed on time. I call the doctor, clinicians, physiotherapist and other health workers to attend to you. I will talk to them to fully understand their diagnosis and treatment plans for you so that I can explain it to you and make choices that are in your best interest and health. I will always strive to see that you have a positive mental attitude since it helps fight better. When you stop fighting, my heart sinks low. It is not over until it is over. So, always remember I want the best for you.
I will keep your information private
As your care giver, I will get to learn a lot about you, but your information will be treated as private and confidential. I am not just acting mean when I talk in a vague way to your friends or to those who call the hospital claiming to be your relatives. I am under confidentiality laws. The hospital policy, insurance providers and nursing licensing agencies all demands that I handle your information with privacy. So, you need not worry about telling me about your confidential information. It will not be broadcasted out there. I will keep you matters to myself.
I will never deliberately ignore you
I am constantly aware that I have to be there for you since I have to attend to you as your needs arise. It so happens that your needs and those of the other patients are likely to occur simultaneously. If your bell goes and I take some time coming, probably I am in the middle of working with another patient to help them feel comfortable. As soon as I am done, I will come and attend to you. Sometimes, this makes me feel a little pulled in different directions. I have learnt to quickly prioritize the needs of all my patients. I always wish there were more of us nurses but many factors dictate otherwise. I will never ignore you. We have learnt to constantly assess and reassess your health progression. We have an unwritten rule to give priority to the sickest person, hence the delay.
I make sacrifices for you
I just do not mean the usual sacrifices of missing dinner and lunch, though it is quite often. Sometimes we have to hold our bladders until all procedures are completed. The admissions process, though seemingly tedious, is necessary for it will tell us what is going on and help to figure out what could be the reason you’ve come to the hospital. This will determine the course of action that the doctors, nurses and specialists will take. I do not want a situation where your health care is impacted negatively. I will sometimes come in on the weekends and on my days off just to see how you are doing. You are family to me.
I am your advocate in the hospital
I will be with you for the most part of your hospital stay. This will help me understand you better than most of the other health workers. It also falls on me to be your advocate in the hospital. I will communicate to other health workers, lobbying for what is important to you. I am well aware that if I do not advocate for your needs nobody else will. I would appreciate it if you trusted that I am fighting for the best for you since I care about you. I also do get to know what you need before others do. I will encourage you to seek a second opinion. I will even coach you on the specific questions to ask the doctor. Why do I do all this? I am your advocate and love to do it.
We coordinate your care
It is commonly assumed that different doctors treating one patient do discuss the treatment prescribed but this is a rare happening. As your care giver, I have to frequently update the doctors on what the other doctor is doing. I have to know which medications you are on so that other drugs that are added will not affect the initial medication and cause more problems. The physiotherapist, nutritionist, psychology counselors rely heavily on the nurses about the progress of their interventions. We are always there with you. I will follow the supplies, medical procedures, tests, therapies and all medications while you’re in my care.
‘Slow but sure’ may apply in some situations
In this age of instant coffee, instant money transfers, instant movie downloads and other technologies, we have learnt to become so impatient. In a hospital setting, there are many clients seeking help and care has to be personalized. We do not have a one fit all package. If we take a while before giving a response about some tests or diagnosis, we just need to confirm what will be best for you. Fast paced care is only appropriate in emergencies where we literally have to fight for your life. Mistakes can be very costly in the health sector.
We hate to wake you up in the middle of the night
Nurses often times appear very inconsiderate. We very well know how much you need that sleep since it is always hard to fall asleep in the hospital. If we allowed you to sleep and fail to give you your medication or take the vital signs at the right time, we would only contribute to lengthening your hospital stay. We really only do it for your own good.
We wish you took routine screenings more seriously
It really pains us to see a patient brought to hospital having collapsed with a stroke from uncontrolled high blood pressure. Worst of all is to handle a case of advanced cervical or prostate cancer. These and many condition can be treated if caught early enough and the course of the disease altered. Prevention is the cheapest and safest option. Routine screenings are very necessary. We wish every person took them seriously and this will ease the burden on the health care system by a big margin.
There are male nurses too
If there is one fact that makes me uneasy, is being referred to as a doctor just because I am a male nurse. It is true that nursing is a female dominated profession but men have also started making in-roads. Apparently, society just refuses to accept it but we are here to stay. So, if everyone learnt to call me nurse, I’d be a lot more comfortable.