Recently, there was public outcry in response to the inappropriate comments made by Washington State Senator Walsh regarding a proposed bill that would require uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for nurses. Walsh has apologized for her comments, and this blog is not intended to further villainize her, but rather to instead highlight the many things that our valuable nurses do and how critical they are to the operations of healthcare in our country.
While the proposed bill in Washington centered around hospital nursing positions, Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants work in a number of different capacities in our healthcare system, including but not limited to doctor’s offices, clinics, emergency room and outpatient care centers, surgical centers, drug rehabilitation centers, government positions, schools and educational services, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, home health care, and hospice.
Patients in hospitals and other facilities need continuous care, so there must be nurses on staff 24 hours a day, 7 days per week including weekends, and holidays. In addition to their shifts, they may also be required to spend a certain amount of time on call, meaning they must stay close by and be prepared to report for duty on short notice in case of an emergency, call off or staffing shortages.
Some duties of a Nurse may include the following:
- Assessment of patients’ physical condition and taking medical history
- Taking Vital signs and recording observations in the chart
- Care Planning
- Administering medications
- Proving treatments such as changing wound dressings
- Assisting patients with performing their Activities of Daily Living
- Monitoring for changes in patient’s condition
- Collaboration with other healthcare professionals such as physicians, therapists, and social workers
- Setting up and monitoring necessary medical equipment
- Educating patients and their families on how to manage illnesses or follow certain instructions
This list is by no means comprehensive but it gives some examples of what nurses may do on a day to day basis. What they don’t teach you in nursing school however is how to hold and elderly patient’s hand while they are taking their last breaths without a family member in sight. How to comfort a grieving mother when she has lost a baby and about to undergo an invasive procedure to remove the fetus. How to collect yourself after the passing of a favorite patient and move on to finish charting and respond to the never ending call lights…
Nursing is a career that requires a lot of physical stamina, emotional stability, the ability to remain calm under pressure, attention to detail, compassion and organizational skills. Nursing is also hard on the body as they must spend a lot of time on their feet, and do a lot of lifting and maneuvering of patients that can be hard on their joints and the back. It is also risky, as they are subject to many illnesses and infections they come into contact with on a regular basis at work.
As our population continues to age the demand for nurses in healthcare services that serve elders will continue to drastically increase in the next several decades. Home Health Nurses are vital to our ability to assist elders with aging in place.
In honor of National Nurses’ week let us celebrate our Nurses, all types who work in all different settings, and make sure they know we support and appreciate them!
About the Author: Pam Reynolds, CMC is the President and co-owner of Allegiance Aging Care Services. Pam has spent almost fifteen years working in senior care including long term care facilities and home health care. Her higher education is in Social Work, and she has been credentialed as both a certified Geriatric Care Manager and Licensed Assisted Living Administrator. Read more about Pam and her team of Aging Care Professionals here.