It’s now December and though the weather outside is less than frightful the daily headlines of “tridemic” patients, especially children, are scary. The dire view that health care is on the verge of collapse is unhelpful, our leaders in government and facilities/agencies/hospitals/Local Health Networks need some swift measures to emerge from this daresay disaster.
The Spanish Flu of 1918 disrupted every day life for close to five years, our pandemic experiences, means we’re only halfway if we follow a similar path. The analytic gurus were incompetent or missed the signs that the respiratory season would be early and brutal, even more for vulnerable members of our community. Those with pre-existing health conditions, immune compromised and our children. The viruses of RSV, influenzae, and COVID-19 have co-mingled and created a synergy of hospital visits to Emergency units and hospital beds filled to beyond capacity.
The nurses considered an expense and not an essential (integral) part of a hospital or clinical space (nurses are an investment), people enter hospitals generally for nursing care. They’re in need of assessments, interventions, support physically and mentally because humans are vulnerable to significant illnesses. Among these patients are stabilized patients waiting for placement to another level of care. For instance the former productive community members who have cognitive challenges, have a physical condition aka stroke that has altered their abilities to perform activities of daily living. Last month I provided many reasons there’s a nursing shortage but let’s review what is required of a modern 21st century nurse.
The list of responsibilities of a nurse are multiple pages long, likely incomplete and a key line is “perform any task that needs to be done” so yeah it’s pretty much everything and the kitchen sink. For all intents and purposes nurses after 6 p.m. generally take over a number of roles covered during the day, they are basic respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, dietary aides, pharmacy techs, environmental services–laundry bags, garbage, by 11 p.m. if not before, they become the receptionists answering the phone, and stationery clerks stocking charts, printing requisitions, and facilities management for spills, leaks, mice, etc. Nursing tasks are fitted around these other roles and understand the acuity and complexity of the patients are significant impacts; many nurses in heavy workloads barely have enough time to have their own bio breaks. Though it’s forbidden officially to drink in a workplace setting, how else could nurses remain hydrated unless a water zone is created to offset such a dumb rule.
What is the point,? The managers and leaders need to revise ASAP their approach to nursing tasks. Get rid of checklists that are redundant, increase support services 24 hours a day, follow up and minimize workplace violence verbal and physical, provide mental health supports that staff will engage in. They’re hurting and the managers and leaders are right there too, that’s why it “sucks” to be a leader because you’re striving to get above the Seriously Hideous Items Today (Acronym SHIT).
Be the organization that your staff (all of them) feel their health and safety are number one, do that and patient engagement scores will increase. Schedule less meetings and be available to deliver support, debrief the staff, deliver cups of water if that’s what they need. Locate your smarter nurses and ask what are the essential tasks and what is useless? Do this yesterday, because the exit from your organization could spin faster and if you’re successfully retaining staff—share and disseminate that knowledge before we’re really up the creek without a paddle (or a nurse to cover our behind when we wear those oh so revealing gowns). Namaste.
Registered Nurse Storyteller, Healer, Scribe, Transformational Leader
Brilliant! You have hit the nail on the head. There is a lot more to nursing than just the technical/physical side of the things they do. Understanding the importance/relevance of the nursing role is what will bring change to healthcare system!
Wow! Well written and to the point.
Now, before it is too late(maybe already).
This needs to come to fruition.
Share with colleagues, friends, and thanks, Take care.