I have now been a bedside nurse for five years, working solely in the acute care setting. For the past three years I have worked in the Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Unit at an inner city hospital.
I began my career in nursing to help people, to care for them in their worst moments, and hopefully being able to say “I hope we don’t meet again,” as they downgrade from the ICU. I went into nursing to save lives, to help people with their health and wellness, to be able to serve individuals in their most vulnerable moments.
As nurses, we come to work everyday to serve our patients. We put every ounce of our energy, desire, and ambition into saving our patients. We often go 12 hours without sitting down to eat a meal, being able to empty our bladders, or take a second to decompress. We do this without hesitation, because this is our job, this is what we signed up for. And we do this without ever being “thanked”. (Now, this may be different in community and rural hospitals, but I am speaking from my personal experience in an inner city hospital, in the 5th largest city in the United States.)
Unfortunately, bedside nursing has now changed into a customer service profession.
Disclaimer: RN does not stand for refreshments and narcotics.
Patient-centered care is VERY different from customer service. An individual should not come to the hospital expecting to be treated liked royalty. (Honestly, this is true, I am not being rude.) Our number one priority is your health and wellness, and in some cases your ultimate comfort. I will treat every patient with dignity and respect, no matter their background. We are not in a position to judge or refuse care. We are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for our patients. Nurses are imperative to patients’ overall wellbeing. We will catch mistakes, questions orders, and advocate for our patients. We will do this until we are blue in the face, all for our patients. We are valuable, we are important. Nursing is a profession; a profession, that in my opinion, does not get enough recognition.
Now, do not get me wrong, I understand that the hospital and healthcare systems are a business. I truly get that. Money is a driving factor. But, money is not everything! I was taught that patient-centered care is the driving factor in healthcare, but from my point of view, this is not the current focus. Now nurses are being “graded” and “critiqued” on much more than their bedside manner and job performance. Nurses are yelled at, belittled and talked down to on a daily basis. We are human beings, we are professionals, we are nurses.
Nurses are the driving force of healthcare; there are over 3 millions RNs in the United States. According to the Institute of Medicine, there are four key messages in which encompass the future of nursing:
Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.
Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.
Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.
Effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and an improved information infrastructure.
The time for change in our healthcare system is now, and nurses need to step up to be the driving factor. With the increase in advanced and complex diseases and a growing population, advanced practice nursing is the future.
I recently began my Acute Care Nurse Practitioner master’s program at Grand Canyon University, my alma mater. I am nervous, excited, and ready to take this next step in my life and career.
My husband and I also discussed in detail about my career, and decided it would be best to step away from bedside nursing while I am in school. Although change can be intimidating, change is necessary. I am currently putting together a business plan to begin a business as a RN Health Coach. I will be getting my personal training certification, health coach certification, and nutrition and wellness certification in order to appropriately and effectively help my clients. I desire to work with individuals and families looking to make healthy lifestyle changes, including fitness and nutrition. Preventative care, including living a healthy lifestyle, is key for the future of our nation as well as healthcare in America. Life is an adventure, everyone deserves to live the best life possible.