The nursing profession is a dynamic, caring and unique one among the health care professions. Several definitions have been given to nursing as an act and as a profession. According to Florence Nightingale, Nursing implies making use of the patient’s environment to help him/her in his recovery (Nightingale, 1860). She had in mind a spotless, clean, quiet and well ventilated environment for a patient’s recovery. She went further to describe a nurse as someone that assists an individual regardless of being well or ill in performing activities that contribute to recovery or health or to peaceful death that would be performed by him if he had the knowledge, will or strength. And in so doing, helps him attain independence as quickly as possible. However, personally, nursing is the total care of all individuals irrespective of ages, gender, religious beliefs and political affiliation, ill or well in any setting. It encompasses health promotions, preventing sickness and injury, optimizing health and advocacy in caring for the individual, families, the community and the general populace. In discharging their duties effectively, a nurse is expected to possess certain qualities. Traditionally, a nurse is expected to be very caring as this is the core of nursing. The nurse has to care for the totality of the patient. The physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well being of the patient is taken care of. In addition, a nurse has to be empathetic, be psychologically and emotionally stable and results oriented. Since nursing is tasking and stressful, a nurse is expected to endure the rigours of the job as there may be few breaks at work, be intelligent, be a hard worker and is expected to have great communication skills.
The public views nurses and the profession in different ways. Some view nurses as angels in uniforms that are in the hospital to care for the sick and assist them in the healing process. Whereas, some people have a view that is just opposite the earlier view. They think that nurses are just a bunch of workers in the hospital who are there to carry out all the orders of the doctor. In essence, they think that nurses are there to run errands for doctors. However, their ignorance is pardonable. Nursing roles are numerous and varied. Asides the traditional role of serving as caregivers, nurses acts as teachers, as counsellors and as patient's advocate. As teachers, they implore their patients to adhere to prescribed therapy and interpret information that is not clear. For instance, after a patient has been diagnosed of a disease like hypertension or diabetes, the nurse plays a key role in educating the patient about the disease and how to effect a better lifestyle change. As councillors, they assist their patients to recognize and cope adequately with their psychological or social stressors. Some diseases such as cancers take a huge psychological toll on the patients, nurses counsel the patients on how to go about managing the situation. They also provide intellectual, social and emotional support for their patients. Also, as patient's advocate they ensure that the patient's rights are protected and their needs are met. These are all in keeping with one of the nursing theories propounded by Virginia Henderson, known as the need theory.
Responsibilities of nurses include safety of patients. They have to reduce the risk of harm occurring to patients and healthcare providers by effective system and impeccable individual performance. Nurses function optimally within the nursing profession and among other health care practitioners in the team by fostering mutual respect, open communication and collaborative decision making in order to achieve quality care. Also, information technology is applied in communicating with other team players, in patient and knowledge management and overall to improve the quality of care given the patients.
PROFESSIONAL NURSING VALUES
As a professional nurse, there are certain values that are required to be upheld. Nurses are expected to have an impeccable character. A nurse's background check should be devoid of convictions or moral and value problems. In essence, a nurse must be morally upright and mentally sound. A nurse that has a criminal record or tendency will be a source of worry for the patient and relatives once they are aware of such information. Such nurses could be easily influenced and compromised in the discharge of their duties. Also, a nurse must be compassionate at all times. His/her actions when dealing with patients must be with gentleness and subtlety. Such that the patient enjoys being taken care of by the nurse and in some instances, could request for the same nurse during subsequent visits or recommend such for a relative. Lastly a nurse must be hard working. Laziness has no place in nursing, hence, a professional nurse must be up and doing and ready to take on challenges head on whenever they arise.
In conclusion, nursing, is arguably the noblest of professions. It entails taking care of the sick, preventing illness in the strong and optimizing health in the populace. Also, it takes into cognisance the psychological and spiritual needs of the individual.
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