What do you think when the word ‘nurse’ is said? Is it hard work? Long hours? Patient care and kindness? Perhaps it’s the fact that nurses are often seen as heroes because of all they do. No matter what it is that comes to mind, the fact is, you’ll know what a nurse is, the kind of work they do, and what they stand for.
However, have you ever considered why they are so important? It’s a fact that they are an absolutely integral part of the healthcare system, but what are the reasons for this? Why do we need nurses so much, and why is the current nursing shortage so problematic? Read on to find out.
They Do Emotional Work
Everyone has the opportunity to be a nurse thanks to the fantastic online courses that are available, which means those who might otherwise not have had the chance can now apply and study to become a nurse. In fact, these same courses can be used to progress your nursing career; you can take your DNP online and move forward, for example.
However, just because you can take these beneficial courses, it doesn’t mean you’ll be a good nurse. It takes a very special kind of person to do this job because it is just so emotional. You’ll be with people at their most vulnerable and scared. You’ll be there when they get life-changing news – both good and bad – and you’ll be there in their last moments.
It’s not everyone who can do this, nor is it everyone who wants to do this. Most people shy away from such extremes of emotion, and as a nurse, you’ll need to deal with it every day, often more than once in a shift. You’ll have to do this and still be there for your patients, no matter what you might just have witnessed or been a part of, so that you can ensure you take care of everyone in the right way. After all, your patients are relying on you to help them.
This is a big part of why nurses are so important. They are resilient and capable, and they are able to help people even if they are emotionally impacted. This is why, if you are a nurse, it’s crucial you have someone to talk to about what you have seen and done during a shift, whether that’s an understanding partner, a colleague, a friend, or even a therapist. Nurses can only do what they do when they have support, so if you intend to become a nurse, make sure you have that support in whatever form works best for you.
It is possible to become a specialist when you are a nurse and focus on just one aspect of patient care. However, most nurses will be more generalized, and certainly, when you start, this is exactly what will happen because you need experience before you can start to work towards a specialty.
When you break down what a nurse needs to know in order to assist their patients in the best way, it’s a lot. They have to know at least a little about almost everything when it comes to healthcare, and in many cases, that little becomes a lot as they gain more and more experience. A nurse will have a massive amount of knowledge about all kinds of different diseases, conditions, and injuries, and that doesn’t just mean they’ll know how to treat them and what medications to use. It also means they’ll understand the signs and symptoms, and they’ll be able to diagnose these issues as well.
This is why nursing school is such an intense thing to go through. There is so much to learn, and it’s vital that nurses are knowledgeable and experienced if they are going to do their work well.
Not everyone likes to learn, and not everyone is capable of remembering so much information and being able to recall it when they need to. This is potentially a rare skill, which is why this is yet another reason why nurses are so important.
We’re all human, and we all have the same bodily functions. However, being human, we often find that many of these things are taboo, and no one wants to talk about them. If they are discussed, it is done so in a joking manner, often because we’re embarrassed. Yet they are part of human nature, and sometimes they are part of an illness or an injury.
Imagine if there was no one who was able to take care of you because everyone was disgusted or amused by the problems you were experiencing, whatever they might be. People would not get well; many would even die.
This is why nurses are important. Nurses can deal with bodily functions without flinching and without embarrassment. They understand that these things are natural and are part of being alive, part of being sick, and sometimes even part of the recovery process and ultimate healing. Nurses are incredible because they can get over the things that most other people cannot, and that can help to save lives. At the very least, it means that people are more comfortable and taken care of when they need it.
As we said above, not everyone is able to deal with the way the human body works; nurses are. The same is true in death. Not everyone is able to cope well with it, and even the idea of it, let alone the reality, can be too much for some to bear. Humans don’t like to think of their own mortality, and they will often do anything to avoid being around death when they can.
Nurses cannot do that. Nurses are confronted with the realities of the end of a life every day. It can be traumatic, or it can be peaceful; it depends on the situation. In either case, the nurse must be able to think of the patient and their family rather than themselves. They must be able to put their own thoughts and feelings to one side – even if they are scared, which they may well be – and focus on the patient. Of course, as we mentioned, having someone to talk to about these thoughts and feelings is crucial, but the fact is that nurses must keep them inside at the time, only letting them out later on.
Nurses are important because everyone deserves to die with dignity. They should have someone with them who cares and can do and say the right thing. When many people would close their eyes and pretend it wasn’t happening, nurses won’t do that – they will be there until the end.
There is something important everyone should know about nurses; they work very long hours. It’s not uncommon for a nursing shift to be 12 hours, and sometimes it can be more than that – this might be the nurse’s choice (overtime, for example), or it could be due to an incident that is taking place in the department they work in (an emergency, or an especially sick patient). No matter what, the truth is that nurses work long hours, and those hours are hard; they are always on the go, always doing something.
We don’t say this to put you off the idea of becoming a nurse if you’re interested because it’s simply a statement of fact. Yet the reality is that many people would find it hard to do this kind of hard work day in and day out, and that’s why nurses are important; without them doing this hard work, the sick and injured would not have the help they need to recover.
More than just the ability to keep working long hours is the fact that nurses who are at the end of their shift will be just as willing to help as those at the beginning. They might be exhausted and want to go home, but they will keep doing their job until their shift is over. This is a very special trait and an excellent example of why nurses are important.
When someone is suffering from a long-term illness or recovering from a traumatic injury, their nurses will be their biggest supporters and advocates. Doctors might be the ones who are ultimately diagnosing and prescribing treatment, but it’s the nurse who is with the patient much more of the time, so it’s the nurse who will understand more about what is needed. A good nurse will advocate on the patient’s behalf, ensuring that the doctor gets more information than they might usually do and therefore offer the best treatment they can.
To the nurse, this might just be part of their job, and they may even do it without thinking because they will always put their patients first. For the patients and their families, it’s a huge deal and something they will be immensely grateful for. It makes such a difference to have someone with you who is genuinely looking out for your best interests; recovery and being in hospital or needing any form of medical care without this advocacy would be so much more difficult.