Elevating the Nursing Profession: Being a Smarter Nurse

6 June, 2013 § 3 Comments

Source: Penn Nursing

Source: Penn Nursing

Nursing, as a profession, has come a long way in our practice, knowledge, and skills.  Long gone are the days of nurses assisting in procedures such as  blood letting, instead Nurse Researchers have fashioned and implemented the science of nursing based on.  No longer do nurses take a subservient role in patient care, instead we advocate for our patients, double check the orders and procedures to ensure they are safe for the patient and protect the patient as the first line caregivers.  We are no longer the lowest on the totem pole, but instead we are equal members of the healthcare team giving input based on our own evidence based practices to influence the best possible outcome.  Today Nurses and the Nursing profession is smarter, and more autonomous overall, with advanced nurse practitioners, doctors of nursing,  and specialty certifications.  It is not uncommon for people to have a Nurse Practitioner as their Primary Care Provider nor is it uncommon for Nurse Practitioners to have their name next to the Medical Doctor in a practice, sharing in the ownership.  Nurses come out of school having learned the newest theories and practice guidelines based on, you guessed it, scientific research done by nurses.  Throughout our careers we continue to learn, adapt, and implement the practices that will best achieve the goals that the healthcare team and our patients have set.

These qualities and advancements in nursing give me a sense of pride for my profession and my colleagues and because of that feeling of pride, because of the knowledge that we can do great things, it also causes me to become upset when I see or hear about a nurse that does something contrary to our own practice guidelines, making your peers look stupid and diminishing the trust that the patient has in you. It fortifies the perception that nurses are dumb, unskilled, and simply do whatever a doctor tells them to do because we can not think for ourselves, or because we are not allowed to think for ourselves.

As nurses we have a great responsibility to elevate and uphold the profession in which we practice.  While there are things that we do autonomously (I did xyz as a nursing measure) there are other things that Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses, by law, need a MD or Nurse Practitioner to sign off on before doing.  A nurse that performs a treatment or administers a medication without having the written order and the nod from advanced practitioners not only potentially harm our patients but diminishes the profession and the view of nurses.  Mistakes certainly happen, but to intentionally do these things on your own is unacceptable and your peers should call you out for it.  As a Registered Nurse there have been many times when I thought that a certain medication might be better than another for my patient, or that a patient needed a certain treatment.  It is as simple as telling the Nurse Practitioner or MD the situation and background, my assessment, and what I want (Yeah, that is SBAR) and 9 times out of 10 I am told “Sure, go for it, that is fine”.  I then write up the telephone order or verbal order and everyone goes home happy. I understand that this is not always the case in everyone facility, but if you do not speak up you will never find out.  We are skilled.  We are intelligent.  We know our patients.

This is all part of being a smarter nurse.  Use the knowledge and skills that you have, and continue to cultivate, in order to assess and advocate for your patients and their needs from a holistic standpoint. Be an active and vocal member of the healthcare team and share what you and your colleagues,as nurses, can offer your patients because it is uniquely different than what any other member of the team can do.

As nurses, we have a responsibility to hold ourselves, our colleagues, and the Nursing Profession to high standards of care and practice.  This is not because Nurses believe we are perfect, indeed we are not, or because we believe we are better than others, but because we believe our patients deserve the best quality of care in order to comfort, rehabilitate, or make them the best that they can possibly be.

Please tell me your thoughts on this topic!



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§ 3 Responses to Elevating the Nursing Profession: Being a Smarter Nurse

  • Trisha- RN says:

    I agree 100%… Patients are scared, vunerable, unaware of what is going on with their health and potentially their life! As a med-surg nurse I see post op patients on a daily basis. For some this is their first surgery ever! Our patients rely on us as nurses to be the physicians eyes and ears as well as the patients voice! I love my job, I love what I do and being a patient advocate will always be a part of my daily nursing care! When we make mistakes we learn from them, as nurses sometimes those mistakes are far more than a learning experience! In the medical field we must remove ourselves from being selfish, ignorant, and hot-headed and work together to save lives, comfort those who have lost a family member and be there to share in the joy of welcoming a new baby into this world. We as medical professionals have one of the hardest yet most rewarding jobs ever!

  • […] few days ago I talked about being a smarter nurse and the science of nursing.  Today, as I read a story originally found on The Spohrs Are Multiplying I am reminded of the art […]

  • I like that you point out that nurses ought to use effective communication (I know a little abut SBAR), take a team approach and use plain common sense to effect quality patient care. However, nursing is part of a complex machine called healthcare that needs to take accountability for its system failures that can happen no matter how smart an individual nurse is. Its time nurses demand organizational accountability, transparency and collaboration needed to improve the entire system.

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