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You Are Not "Just a Nurse"

You Are Not "Just a Nurse"

Kathy Quan

July 07, 2010

Nurses don’t take credit for the valuable things they do. How many times a day do you assess a patient and call the physician to report the significant changes so that the patient’s needs get met and his outcome is improved? How many times are these critical issues that make a difference between life and death? How many lives do you save each day? How much time do you spend some days trying to convince a physician to do something or change something because of your assessment or instincts?

The Things Nurses Really Do…

  • The 85-year-old-woman is ever so grateful that you helped her with the bedpan and calls you her angel because you saved her from wetting the bed which is the worst humiliation she could imagine. The truth is, you saved her from a devastating fall or injury because she’s not ready to ambulate to the bathroom or even transfer to a commode.

  • You took a few minutes to discuss the LP procedure with an anxious mother and her 8 year old son so that they both knew what to expect and were better able to cope with the pain and the aftercare and let their fears be only about the results and not the unknown of the process.

  • When the 45-year-old-woman received the news that her breast cancer has metastasized and she needs to decide whether to continue to fight it or give up, you were there to hold her hand and share a few tears and give her a hug that gave her the courage to make a difficult decision.

  • Your therapeutic touch helped the 50-year-old newly diagnosed diabetic man trust you and tell you his inner fears which keep him from being compliant with his medication and diet and landed him in the hospital with a blood sugar of 800. Armed with this information, you can begin the education process to help him take control of his life and his disease, in addition to informing his physician and other heath team members so that they too can understand this patient’s needs, knowledge deficits and fears.

  • The back-rub you gave tonight helped reduce the pain that isn’t being controlled with the medications for the patients who’s doctor refuses to make changes. The wrinkled sheets you smoothed helped to prevent a decub that would further devastate this patient. (You also saved the hospital lost reimbursement for a “do-not-pay” event, and the health care system thousands of dollars to treat the decub.)

No matter where you work as a nurse, and no matter what your job description is, you help to save lives and make a difference in someone’s life everyday. You are not “just a nurse;” you ARE a nurse and this is what you do. Stand up and take credit for it.

Collectively this is how, we as a profession, will be taken seriously and obtain the recognition and working conditions, salary and benefits we need to improve the health care systems and continue to provide excellent quality care.

This article was originally published on The Nursing Site.

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