More times than not patients or family members say the following; “you’re an angel…”, or some version that at first seems okay, until some reflection and one realizes the lack of awareness the public has of nurses’ knowledge, skill, and judgment. Of course kindness, caring, and dedication are aspects of successful nursing; my concern is that a number of RNs do not invest a few minutes educating the patients, families, and the public on what our RN status means.
For many of us we have worked hard to achieve a level of competence in this dynamic practice discipline of nursing. We have read, reviewed, critiqued, indeed actively and over the long term traveled the pathway of life-long learning. From this foundation of theory, evidence, ethics, humanities, physiology, pharmacology, etc. we also have to blend the technical skills of assessment, provision of physical care, exhibit supportive actions to provide tasks in a mindful, kind, caring way, and always be conscious of the nurse and patient therapeutic relationship. We are sentinels, advocates, communicators, and we are knowledge, technology, and clinical savvy practitioners.
We also need to excel in critical thinking, change management, quality care performance indicators (hand hygiene anyone), participate in leadership opportunities, precept students and new staff members. Thereby delivering effective and daresay efficient nursing care that encompasses the body, mind, and soul of each patient. As nurses we do more than tasks, everything we provide goes through assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation.
A number of organizations are focusing on the patient experience, this involves tenets such as service excellence, communication best practices, and “checking in with the patient” to explore their perspective on what they need; for that shift, to move on to their next phase, and to explore their concerns. We need to be ready for difficult conversations about loss, fear of death, desire to die, ethical dilemmas i.e. “family wants everything done, despite poor prognosis”.
Now I acknowledge workloads are heavier, documentation is not always an efficient process, and indeed patients in hospitals have health conditions that are growing in acuity and complexity. So evidence-based management is vital; to strategically plan and implement best practices to operate a program/ward/unit/clinic, obtain adequate resources, co-create trusting relationships, support shared governance (create an empowering environment), lead and sustain change, balance competing values and priorities [RNAO, BPG Developing & Sustaining Nursing Leadership]. It’s an expectation RNs will be engaged in their practice, their workplace, and their profession.
We, by virtue of our title Registered Nurse, are expected to be professional, meet the standards of the College (not our College per se, for the College has a primary objective of public safety to protect the citizens from incompetence, unethical behaviour, and abuse of any kind). The role we have for advocacy, political action, participating in the application of best practice guidelines can be accessed (in Ontario) through the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO). The opportunities to speak out for nursing and speak out for health care are numerous, as an organization RNAO has a track record of identifying issues related to nursing policy and the social and environmental determinants of health and proposing solutions.
Our interest group is guided by the principles of advocacy, leadership, and caring, it is our vision that we can inspire our members to deliver clinical excellence by providing education on; decompression strategies for burnout, how to live with shift work, and share knowledge, wisdom, and humour p.r.n.
Now Florence Nightingale wrote “We are a reflection of the divine, with physical, metaphysical, and intellectual attributes”, the word angel is from ancient Greek ‘angelos’ meaning ‘messenger; angels act as a bridge, serving as a channel between the spiritual realm and the material, physical world. I choose this point to acknowledge my nursing intuition and I have had experiences of miracles. One event was to be standing at a sink across the room from as isolette (capacity of 6), the mother of the child exited the room, I turned to check the baby and the top of the isolette was open and the baby on the edge of the mattress about to fall out. To this day I do not know how I reached the bed spot in an instant I caught the babe with my leg and hip, no harm to him, and from that incident an unveiling of a mother’s mental health status. Divine intervention definitely, I’m not an angel, I do see myself as a healer and that involves acknowledging and embracing the divine.
I embrace my skill as a messenger and though I’m not an angel; I am a registered nurse who is open and receptive to the universal energy connected to healing modalities—I know I have a guardian angel and for that matter I have recognized my connections to shamanic ways, totems, and being open to angels and guides. This is my spiritual journey, it includes being a nurse, and obviously a whole lot more. You will note I have not mentioned religion, and the concept I have used is spiritualism, for you it maybe your religious practices. The path to the divine is as unique as each of us are in this world, if you have reached this point reflect on your professional role, your healer role, and how you are navigating challenges, accomplishments, losses, and consider why you are here…Namaste