The Problem with Nursing Today: How can we provide patients with better care?

in medical •  last year


Nursing is a profession of caring, nurturing and understanding. We are devoted to our patients and try our absolute best to nurse them back to health. However often as nurses we can be critical and jarring towards our own patients. As a nursing student, in the process of completing my clinical rotations, I believe I know what the problem is. The issue is as nurses we become so engulfed in tasking and paperwork, that we have seem to have lost that "human touch" with our patients. We do not feel like we have enough time to truly talk to the patient and understand what is going on with them, instead we are in our charts analyzing data about what is wrong with our patients. The problem with that is, you may medically know what is wrong with the person, however psychologically you cannot begin to imagine how that person may feel and/or what personal issues they have going on at that moment. Meaning they could be dealing with financial issues, family issues, career issues and cannot do anything about it while sitting in a hospital bed.

My second clinical rotation this semester was with a patient who was very ill. I knocked on the door and walked in on him laying on his right side curled up in what appeared to be fetal position. I told him I was his nurse for the day and asked him if it would be okay for me to obtain some vital signs and ask him questions. After he said it was fine, I told him I was going to grab my medical supplies and would be back. When I came back I spoke to him for a while to obtain some health history while doing my vital signs. I spoke to him for roughly fifteen minutes listening to where he worked, how he had gotten ill, where he ended up staying after being ill and why he was in the hospital now. During this time I slowly started to realize his demeanor had started to change. He uncurled himself from the position he was in, he was smiling and louder than when I first introduced myself.

After talking to him I told him I had to excuse myself to document a few things and I would be back, he stopped me and thanked me for talking to him. He told me that during his stay at the hospital this was the most anyone had spoken to him in a matter of two weeks. I told him there was no reason to thank me and that I would be back. When I stepped out of the room I was heartbroken, not because I had gotten personal with my patient or that I had felt an attachment, rather I had thought of every individual who had stepped into that room and merely brushed him off as "just another patient". The number of nurses aids, doctors and nurses that had walked into that room said a few words, done tasking, took vitals or gave medication, never to give him more than ten minutes of their time to see how he was feeling or hear his story.

Not all patients are or can be as pleasant as mine was and I have come to terms with that, however, we become so enamored in our everyday lives we forget how frustrated, how lonely, how angry or how helpless some of our patients can feel. We forget that these are people not just our patients. Just like we have a million things running in our head at one time, our patients do too. These are people who may or may not have had a family, a spouse, a job, or unresolved issues prior to their hospitalization, which can cause a slew of emotions to form. And while each stressor of life is personal to each individual and situation, we have to understand how each individual deals with these stressors are different.

We as nurses cannot get angry or upset at a patient who is not being compliant with doctors orders or a patient who does not "want our help". We as nurses cannot judge someone based off of documentation, lab values, illnesses, or the way they presented themselves at first. We as nurses need to rise to the occasion and ask why. Why do you, as the patient, not want to do this or why do you not want my help because then we will get answers. Maybe they are not the answers we are looking for or answers we want to hear but this plants the roots to a flower only we can help blossom.

When I took my nursing fundamentals class I was taught, we are the patients advocate, we look out for our patients best interest and their needs. While we advocate for medication, rehabilitation centers, or home health aides, how can we know what our patients actual needs are if we don't actually know our patients? Every patient on the floor needs medication whether it's a basic medication like Tylenol, or something more complex like a cephalosporin, and every patient has discharge needs whether its education or a place to go for rehabilitation, but what about them? We forgot that each patient is unique because we lost touch with what basic human needs are outside of medicine. Just imagine yourself standing in the middle of a crowded street, looking physically ill and feeling mentally exhausted, with hundreds of people passing you by with not one word being said to you. You'd feel trapped and alone.

I am not advocating that we take up a large portion of our time on the floor entertaining our patients because we have a job at hand with more than just one patient at a time, but I am advocating that every time, we have a patient, we get to know them just a little more every time we step into that room. We ask them those personal questions, beyond medicine, and we question their needs to further understand who they are. We are healers of the body and it is time to be healers of the mind.

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My wife is a nurse, so I have heard this before. Just wanted to say thank you for what you do!

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Thank you very much!

What a thoughtful post, ladyq! 💗 I'm glad you took the time to speak with that patient - soothing the heart can help heal the body!

Society nowadays is so busy, so rushed. Whether we are nurses, doctors, teachers, or parents, there are so many demands on our time and high expectations to always "do" more. But like you said in your post, sometimes the most helpful thing we can do is to slow down a little and take the time to connect with each other.

I am sure you will be a wonderful nurse and I hope we will have more nurses like you who are more "patient" (pun intended!) and can truly see the person behind the illness.

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Thank you so much. The patience took a little time to get used to, due to the fact that whenever I had a less than happy patient, I would take it personally. Sometimes I'd even take it home with me, however after meeting so many people (patients), I had an epiphany that people react to certain things differently. This doesn't apply to only nursing of course, but everyday life as well. We all do not deal with things the same. However taking a step back and putting yourself in someone elses shoes can definitely help you see a little of what they're going through.
Thank you again for such kind words! I will continue to try my best!

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@sizzlingmonkeys thanks for sharing @ladyq's post. Wouldn't have seen it if you didn't resteem it. @Ladyq, thank you for sharing your story with us. I was a patient once when I had knee surgery, and I remember feeling so lonely and scared at the hospital when I was left alone for a couple hours. It was so nice when a kind nurse came in to talk to me for a little bit. It's crazy how much words and love can do for a person when you need it the most. Thanks for doing what you do. We need people like you out there! :)

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Ahhhh I feel so honored, I didnt know my post was resteemed! @sizzlingmonkeys thank you so much for sharing! As for what you said I can totally understand. I've been hospitalized and recieved HORRIBLE treatment by the nurses. When i'd call it'd take forever to get one, and then i'd get a response of some sort like "you arent my patient so ill tell your nurse."
On the flip side someone in the family recently had a surgery, which wasn't at the hospital I do my clinicals at (it upset me a little it wasn't there to be honest), however I was really happy that we ended up at that hospital because the nurses hospitality was AMAZING in comparison to the hospital I'm familiar with. They gave us a "thank you" card & were really attentive to our needs/questions/concerns. I ended up telling them I'm a nursing student & the nurses at this hospital provided better care than the hospital I do my clincals at! I had to compliment them on the things they did to help us out. We didn't feel alone, or anything else.
However I'm sorry for you experience, next time for future reference, if anything goes wrong or your unsatisfied with the service I'd speak to the charge nurse or floor manager. You can also report hospitals (online anonymously) for anything that involves health code violation matters, such as patient privacy, unsanitary conditions, etc.

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Good to know! Thank you for sharing that information. Hopefully I don't have to be in a hospital again... but if I do, now I know what to do. :) I saw you just recently joined, I'll have to check out your last blog! I know the feeling, when people resteem your stuff it feels super good. You deserve it, really nice article!

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Thank You! I checked out your page and saw your a youtuber. what does you channel feature? I may have to check it out!

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:) http://bit.ly/kssyoutube Here is the link to my channel. I teach acroyoga and crafts. I also started to vlog about my travels and acroyoga! :)

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awesome! I love crafts! I will definitely check it out! (:

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aww thanks! :) I actually just taught a crafting class for the first time this weekend in person. It was pretty cool :)

This is an excellent call for empathy! Congrats for this post!

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Thank you so much. Its much needed in Nursing. I cannot begin to express how many bad incidents, I myself have had, or family members in a hospital setting when it came to nurses.

The one vital part of the medical field is being passionate and humble towards the patient or the general society...You have to treat the patient as if you are treating your ownself or your family member...Ethical code by Hippocrates is corner stone to the medicine.
Even when taking history of the patient...we should / have to bring ourselves to the level of Patient so as to increase the reppo between the two...and patient be fully comfortable in talking to the medical officer be it nurse or doctor...The proper history is very important for proper diagnosis and proper diagnosis is cardinal part of Success. So having a comfortable reppo with your patient doesn't only help patient but it is important for ypur success too.
I very much agree with you that today patient has become like paperwork...you are keen to finish it as soon as possible without knowing what is written on it or what it conveys. So it is need of hour to change the perspective towards the patients and be wonderful doctor which i am sure you would love...personal thought and experience.

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I agree 100%.

Nursing is a incredible profession. Thank you for what you do!