This week reminded me that “on this day in history” years ago my class gathered at St. Patrick’s Day Cathedral in New Jersey for our Graduation from St. Vincent’s Hospital School of Nursing. What a day it was. We all had so many dreams, aspirations and yes, fears. To this day when I see a medication, I cannot help but think, “What are the side effects BESIDES nausea, vomiting and diarrhea?” While we had survived the many rigors of school, we were now on our own to care for patients.
Was it better then?
Interestingly, back then, nurses did not need to prove proficiency through achieving an RN license before being hired and starting work. Months later we “sat” for the boards —a grueling two-day, paper- based event — followed by weeks of waiting for results. By the time we had cut our teeth working endless shifts with live patients. How things have changed! Today a nurse must have a license prior to beginning work; licensing exams are no longer two days or on paper; and exams are completed on a computer, and it shuts down after you have met the threshold for passing or failure. I honestly don’t know which is more stressful, but I can assure you that there is nothing stress-free about the Registered Nurse Licensing examination-then or now!
The art of nursing unchanged
Times may have changed, technologies have evolved, and care delivery priorities have shifted, but the core competencies and the art and science of nursing have not. Nurses continue to be at the center of patient care delivery across the entire continuum 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are uniquely positioned to not only affect change, but also drive the use of technology to efficiently manage change in behaviors and mechanisms used in healthcare to deliver quality care that our patients want and deserve. That is the very reason that we entered this profession.
“In every quality-improvement initiative, it is nurses who play a crucial role in determining if that patient experience will succeed or fail” – Pam Sipriano, President, American Nurses’ Association
Despite nurses’ continued central role in care delivery, very little attention has been given to their role in today’s transition to Value-Based Care. Recently, A Pam Sipriano, President of the American Nurses’ Association, took a strong stand saying that Nurses and Nursing leadership are key to the success of this transition because they have been owners of care coordination for decades, and are the most holistic members of the team regardless of settings.
There is not one amongst us who has not been a patient or been the caregiver of a loved one in a hospital or other healthcare environment. When you reflect upon those experiences, who comes to mind first? It is more than likely the nursing staff. Nurses are the core of the healthcare delivery team. They become family and are the bridge between you and other members on the team. It is the nurse that communicates the need for better pain management, better discharge planning preparation and the fears of the patient of the family to the physician. It is the nurse that holds the hand of the laboring mother and the dying patient. It is the nurse that families rely upon to be the comfort and advocate to their family members when they cannot be physically present. It is the nurse that families contact for updates. It is the nurse that cries with you over sad news and celebrates with you upon recovery. It is the nurse that arranges the birthday cake for your hospitalized child or mother.
Intrinsic to nursing is the realization that care is not just about vital signs, diagnostic tests and medications. Care is about the human being who just happens to be a patient under their care. For many of us, it seems like just yesterday that we transcribed orders onto medication tickets and Cardexes. For new nursing grads, this is a foreign world! But the art and science of Nursing has not changed. Our core mission is to deliver the best care at the right time, using the right treatments, medications and interventions in the manner that enables the best outcomes for the patient and their families.
Celebrate National Nurses Week 2016 May 6-12