Nurses are well known to the public, but often all that they do and how they do it isn’t fully understood or perhaps is taken for granted. Here’s a short list of elements of the nurse role that needs better recognition.

1. Nurses are teachers

The nursing career is a multi-faceted one; the tasks nurses carry out go beyond much of what is stated in a job listing. The role of registered nurses as educators, for example, cannot be understated. Not only do nurses have to navigate complex patient care duties, but they also instruct their patients on a wide variety of medical topics to help them lead healthier lives. Patient education, in fact, is at the heart of nursing practice.

Nurses also teach their colleagues, particularly those new to the profession. And nurses themselves are lifelong learners. To better serve their patients, they keep up-to-date on the latest technological and scientific advances. 

2. Nurses are trusted

The classic television show narrative of the distracted, busy doctor and the attentive nurse who catches the overlooked crucial information regarding the patient’s’ diagnosis is not one without merit. The Gallup Poll asks annually which group of professionals is perceived as the most “ethical and honest.” According to Gallup, 80% of Americans have said nurses have the highest ethics and honesty since 2005. Additionally, nurses have consistently ranked as number one since 2005 with the exception of 2012, where firefighters were ranked number one.

What can be inferred from this information? People continually see nurses as people of integrity, and for good reason. Nurses are the ultimate patient advocates and speak up when they feel something isn’t right with the patient’s condition and prognosis.

3. Nurses are multitaskers

The environment surrounding registered nurses is fast-paced and unpredictable, and nurses’ cognitive load is exceptionally heavy. Between juggling loads, charting, dealing with the demands of doctors, checking vitals, and adjusting the medication of their various patients, good nurses possess the meticulous ability to work on these tasks simultaneously. According to one study conducted by the University of Michigan in 2010, it found that hospital nurses had a significant amount of interruptions – 1 interruption every 4 ½ minutes, with nurses observed to be multi-tasking 35% of the time.

Not only do they have to multi-task for their patients, but nurses have to juggle their own needs, as well. While trying to navigate their various patients, nurses often work beyond their scheduled shifts.

4. Nurses are the ultimate caregivers

With all the demands of the job and skills required to navigate these demands, you would think nurses would be very unhappy with their jobs. While nurses do cite frustrations and problems with their jobs, several years of surveys administered by AMN Healthcare in 2013 have shown that nurses are very satisfied with their choice of career, with approximately 90% of nurses stating their high satisfaction.

According to another survey conducted by the Health and Human Services department of the Massachusetts government, 60% of all students in nursing school identified caring for other people as the most important factor that attracted them to a career in nursing, as opposed to the 3% of students in the nursing program who responded that the nursing salary was what attracted them to the job.

Nurses are the backbone of healthcare. Their direct care responsibilities cause them to spend more time with patients than other healthcare providers. They often cite being able to get to know their patients and support them when they are at their most vulnerable as the most gratifying aspect of their jobs. Patients often remember their nurses years after they take care of them.

Originally posted on 28/3/2016

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