An Introduction To Nursing
Nursing is one of the more widely understaffed professions in the country. This is particularly true of nurses working in wards that have an understandably high mortality rate and patients that require a great deal of close observation and care. This is generally attributed to the difficult working conditions, mandatory overtime, and general roles.
The Change Over
Generally, nurses are given several patients (anywhere from two or three to ten or more) to care for through the space of their shift. At the beginning of a shift, the nurse will do the rounds of their patient with the nurse that is going off shift. All relevant and important information is handed over facilitating the smooth transition of nurses and the best possible ongoing care for the patient.
General Patient Care
General care duties range from bathing patients to feeding them. Obviously these are vital aspects to a patient’s recovery and poor care can lead to severe detrimental effects not only for the patient concerned but also the rest of the patients on the ward. Regular baths and mealtimes are allotted and depending on the shift that a nurse is working, it will be necessary to undertake many of these tasks.
Drug Administration And Management
The administering of drugs is a careful procedure. Records must be monitored and maintained on a regular basis to ensure that any reactions to a particular medicine can be caught early and acted upon. Subsequently it is also necessary for nurses to update the records as they go along. This offers a continuity of care that not only helps patients recover effectively but also enables nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals to complete their job properly and efficiently. Drug stocks must be maintained, and any medication required needs to be ordered from the pharmacist.
Dying Patient Care
It is also, regrettably, necessary to care for dying patients. This is one of the more demanding aspects of a nursing job and is one of the major causes for the shortage of nurses especially seen in ICU wards. For the patient this is the final step in their hospital stay, but for the nurse caring for that patient the work continues. The bed and surrounding area must be prepared for the next patient and the notes for the deceased patient must be written up carefully.
Educating Patients And Families
Education has become a more important factor in the nursing role. As hospitals and medical professionals are now geared primarily towards preventative medicine, it is the nurses that are generally responsible for educating patients and their families with regards to their particular illness and its treatment. Without this education, patients would be left with little or no understanding of their illness or how to prevent or treat it.
Wound management has earned itself separate mention because of its importance. A badly dressed or treated wound can have serious effects, possibly even culminating in death. Infections are also easily spread in an environment where many people are already weakened and, therefore, more susceptible to infection. It is, therefore, absolutely essential that wounds and dressings are maintained and treated regularly and properly.
Other Important Factors
There are also other factors to consider. Litigation by patients is an increasingly common occurrence and as such is something that must be watched and prevented carefully. Nurses are largely responsible for this in their manner of care as well as the actions they take.
Extended Shifts And Long Working Weeks
Another point to remember is the working day. Clearly, nurses need to be present 24 hours a day with adequate cover in the case of emergencies or staffing problems. In order to meet this incessant demand, and because of the shortage in nurses, more and more currently employed registered nurses are finding mandatory overtime to increase. Some hospitals have opened bidding style websites that nurses can access and take vacant shifts. This has, for the most part eliminated a lot of the mandatory overtime that was once required of a nurse. However, it is still not uncommon to work very long shifts – typically 12 hours – on a regular basis.
The combination of these factors has led to a large number of registered nurses leaving the profession. While this means there is an extraordinarily large demand for nurses throughout the country, it also means that working conditions are getting harder. Recruitment drives, though, are set to come to fruition, which will improve the conditions again. Nurses will still be expected to work hard and experience a working day that can easily go from calm to hectic in a matter of seconds.
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