Oftentimes I believe that if we care for someone we know or love, our practice would change greatly. Would be not be more attentive, more empathetic, more loving towards that person? Is that not human nature? According to the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics Provision 2 article 2.2 nurses are frequently put in situations of conflict arising from competing with loyalties in the workplace, including situations of conflicting expectations from patients, families, physicians, colleagues, and in many cases health care organizations and health plans (Code of Ethics. 2014).
I became a nurse so that I could care for my grandfather in his aging years. I have, unfortunately, seen the way some elderly people are treated in the hospital and or nursing home, and wanted to make sure that never happened to him. We have a relationship unlike any other, and he has molded my nursing practice. I look at every patient as if they were my grandfather, and how would I want my grandfather treated in the same scenario. I believe this has made me a more compassionate nurse, and has allowed me to really care for my patients as if they were my own family.
The Code of Ethics provision number five states the nurse owes the same duties to self as to others including the responsibility to preserve integrity and safety, to maintain competence and to continue personal and professional growth. (Code of Ethics. 2014). This particular provision encourages the nurse to keep updated on the latest evidence based practices in order to provide the best possible care to their patients. Not only a nurse, I am also a mother, a granddaughter, a wife, an aunt, etc. This compels me to research many ailments that may come about with my family. I often will look at text, or even ask the physician his or her thoughts on the subject manner. I am always looking to grow and learn, especially considering I have started a new path within the ICU. I have only been here for just over a year, and I have so much to learn. I do not feel ashamed to ask questions. I am not afraid to learn new things. I feel as though if I do not learn something every day, then that day has been wasted.
We as nurses are constantly learning, and changing our practice. Having only been an ICU nurse for a short period, I have to be careful when delivering care to my most critical patients. I will sometimes triple check new medications, research current policies with regard to any procedure I may be doing, and will often still reach out to other nurses for help. I tend to see people and their families at their worst. Whether I am trying to give someone comfort in their last days, or fighting aggressively for their life, each patient and family is unique. To care for the holistically with without regard to my own personal beliefs can be trying at times, but to be able to give excellent care, this profession requires just that. Putting aside your own beliefs, and accepting how your patient wants, and deserves to be treated. I have joined a few committees at work for the sole reason of feeling like I am able to change policies for the better of my patients. For instance, even though I am an ICU nurse, I am also a certified orthopedic nurse.
In the unit, this certification is rarely needed, so I have joined the ortho-joint committee, and am serving as a liaison between our hospital and our parent hospital to streamline our care for these patients. I teach classes to patients prior to having a joint replaced, and have a hand in creating their aftercare. My experience will help this population receive better care, and hopefully regain their independence quicker. Florence Nightingale was an advocate for the advancement of education for nurses. She pioneered our profession, and saved countless lives. Using evidence based practice, she concluded that many of the soldiers on the battlefield were not dying simply from their wounds, but from infection related to care afterwards. Using this knowledge today, we have sterile technique that keep our patients safe, and use healthcare bundles to ensure safety.
For instance, our ventilated patients have what we call a vent bundle. This bundle has many ways to help prevent ventilator associated pneumonia. In keeping our patients safe, we follow these bundles to the T. Any deviation can cause patient harm, and as nurses we are advocates and facilitators for excellent care. Yearly training ensures competency, and peer coaching keeps everyone honest. Our patient outcomes will be better, and job satisfaction remains high. Our primary job as nurses is of course to keep our patients safe, and to do no harm. I would like to take this a step further, and ask that we also care for others as we would care for ourselves.
You can teach just about anyone the technical aspects of a procedure, but to really make an impact, you must also be able to see the world from their eyes, their fears, their anxieties, and make them feel safe in your care. We are professionals. In conclusion, a nurse wears many hats. They must be willing to constantly learn, and be a sympathetic ear to those who need one. Not only are we educated formally, we must also strive to be educated emotionally. To be a effective nurse takes skill, however to provide holistic care to not only the patient, but their families as well takes heart. Each patient we lose takes something of us, and each patient we save gives some back. In the end, we can only hope that the saves outnumber our losses, and we leave the profession just a little better because we were there.
Code of Ethics. (2014, January 1). Retrieved August 1, 2014, from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/EthicsStandards/CodeofEthicsforNurses