Think back to a time in your life when you’ve needed a nurse. I think we can all recall at least once, if not half a dozen times, when a nurse has been there at a time when we’ve needed them most.
Nurses provide care and compassion when it seems that everyone else is too busy to notice if we’re sick or hurt. Nurses listen to us, treat us with respect, understand the pain that we’re in and do everything in their power to make us more comfortable.
Nurses are caretakers, and they take care of everyone.
These are the things we know about nurses. But often, the things that make the most difference, and where nurses really make an impact, no one ever talks about.
Nurses Improve Patient Care
Alongside their remarkable clinical expertise and ability to absorb knowledge like a sponge, nurses consistently apply multiple techniques to improve patient care.
A nurse is often the first healthcare professional that we’ll meet when we visit the doctor, the hospital or a community healthcare center. It’s often their job to make sure we understand our diagnosis, alleviate us of our fears, and empower us to make the best healthcare decisions for ourselves.
According to a 2018 Gallup poll, nurses have topped the list for honesty and ethical standards ratings for the last 17 years, with 84% of Americans rating nurses as “very high” or “high.”
In part, this exceptional public opinion of nurses is due mainly to the fact that they cope with stress exceptionally well and ensure that the needs of their patients take priority above all else.
Nurses Provide Tough Love When We Need It Most
Whether frowned upon or not, a great nurse will tell you how it is. They’ll let you know if you’re being a fool to yourself and hindering your own recovery, and they’ll ultimately have your back while they do it. Nurses can help us to stop sabotaging ourselves by providing vital support and information to help us back to our former (or better) health.
I remember a time in my life when I was hospitalized and in a great deal of pain for several days. The doctor had told me that I needed to move, to try and stretch a little, but it was simply too painful to do so. So I simply lay there, feeling sorry for myself.
Then, along came Brenda. A terrifying woman with a heart as big as the moon.
“Did the doctor tell you to move?” she asked, rather sternly, I thought.
I nodded meekly and made a half-hearted attempt to sit up.
Brenda shot me a look that only my father gives me when I’m in trouble. She then gently took hold of my arm and helped me to sit up.
“Then you best do as he says and make an effort,” Brenda retorted.
Over the next few days, Brenda did not let up until I was out of bed and making slow but steady steps around the room, whether I wanted to or not. (And trust me, I cursed her when she wasn’t listening!)
She had my back.
She advocated for me.
She was the number one reason that I left the hospital a few days sooner than the doctors expected. And, she gave me a huge hug on the way out.
I will never forget Brenda for as long as I live.
My story is not unique. Nurses advocate for their patients every single day of their careers to ensure we are as fit and well as we can be. They tell us what we need to hear, even if it’s not what we necessarily want to hear.
If you know you need some tough love, you can trust a nurse to provide it.
Nurses Provide Kitchen Table Wisdom to Create Better Societies
It’s not just patients in hospitals, clinics and community health centers that benefit from advice and guidance of a nurse.
When we know that our friend or our neighbor is a nurse, we find ourselves seeking out their advice — often over a coffee or a friendly, non-official visit. It may well be that we need advice on a weird-looking mole, or we need support to explain the concept of death and loss to a child.
And, unlike many other professions, nurses don’t often reply with, “call me during office hours.” That isn’t to say that we don’t need to value their time; they are dedicated working professionals and deserve that respect.
However, even when they’re not on duty, a nurse is always on call. And this means that our neighborhoods and communities are much stronger because of the advice and support provided by our nurses. It also means that we will never be able to calculate the pressure that nurses remove from an already critically overloaded healthcare system, just by giving advice and guidance to their friends and neighbors.
Nurses may not get the recognition they deserve as they quickly and quietly go about their business, comforting the sick and reassuring our loved ones. But one thing is for sure, nurses are the backbone of our evolving society and we should take every opportunity to stop and say THANK YOU.