by Paula Manuel Staff Nurse Interest Group

On the never ending To Do list some tasks are enjoyable; it’s finding the time.  In the next week some of my time will be freed up as I complete my volunteer leader role as a Regional Representative.  As a Governor in my Professional Association I have extended my knowledge on issues and trends related to nursing and health.  I have enhanced my knowledge of policy in action; understanding politics is a means and policy an outcome.

As nurses our stories, experiences, and clarity of defining the issues can drive policy development because we have achieved credibility.  We are not complainers, indeed we prepare our platforms/campaigns to advocate for aims and objectives that are relevant to many of us in the public.  As a staff nurse I was a sentinel, rescuer, clinician, teacher, and mentor.  As a leader in a direct care role I challenged the status quo, honed my political skills, enhanced my knowledge of change, shared governance, transformational strategies, and leading the way (role model).

Whether to challenge the goals of care in the context of medical futility; to question…we can do everything to prolong life but is it the best option.  The quality of life and the need to really talk about palliative care, not as a short term and limited scope but a continuum that spans managing a health condition, navigating through the setbacks, grief processes for what was and what is now the reality.  In my new role of manager it is not uncommon to meet families who are unprepared, unaware, indeed I see indecision along with extreme hope, and recognize the pain that can be felt by those experiencing despair, burnout, and failure to cope.

The dialogue we can have may ease fear, the empathy we show can ease the pain of potential and actual loss.  Our professional values are signposts to guide us, as we apply knowledge, skill, and judgement; our profession is a practice discipline–we need to assess, question, motivate, act, evaluate and reflect.  Our work can be profound, making a difference by contributing to a new modality of treatment; it can be small interventions such as  handing over my scissors after snipping a lock of hair for a memory package.  The mother gave her son a haircut and thanked me for making it possible, as she gently kissed him and poignantly said goodbye I excused myself and implemented the intervention of privacy.  End of life exists in many forms, as nurses we appreciate moral ambiguity exists and our perspectives are needed to enrich the dialogue.  Some of us will have the time and resources to lead change, to inspire others to speak out; and ensure policy development takes place, and sometimes it will be a simple task that can transform a moment like a pair of scissors.  Namaste

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