Portrait of a female nurse using a tablet

This article was originally published in ANA New York Nurse, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Nov. 2016)

There are many challenges in our healthcare system, some of which are getting progressively worse…some because the nation doesn’t shift its focus fast enough to counterbalance those rising problems.  In a hierarchal system that is dependent on the decisions made from top board members and institutions, with little attention to the personnel that take those decisions off paper and apply them to real life situations.  Nurses are among those whose efforts and contributions to our healthcare system are usually overlooked…and at times undermined, despite the continuous contributions they make and have made to our society and history.  When times change, professions must evolve to change along with them, but as it stands now, by the first quarter of the 21st century, our nation will be 500,000 nurses short of providing patients with the attention and care they need to recover1. There are many ways to increase awareness of this rising issue, but one of the best approaches for this to happen is for the public to understand just what the nursing field is and what are the expectations and challenges involved.  Since technology is already a major part of our daily lives and structures – so much so that our attention is continuously directed to how it can hasten or improve daily tasks or provide us with the information we need to solve a problem.  Nurses can use social media to share their knowledge, methods and ideas about what this community of healers actually do.

Though nurses work hand-in-hand with other professionals in the field, nurses are limited to what they can and cannot do, despite their unique “hands-on” experience with patient and their individual needs.  The public hears very little about the struggles of the profession, primarily because there aren’t many active nurse social media sites that the public can review, or have the opportunity for one-on-one conversations with a practicing nurse in order to learn more.  Sharing information online about nursing and the challenges of their everyday assignments shows that nurses are passionate about their work and about their patients.  It’s not about the number of people they help, but rather how many lives they touch for the better.  People come go between hospital rooms and emergency centers, but nurses always remember their faces, their conditions, their needs and event their dreams and wishes when they strike up a conversation.

The way that nurses were educated in the 20th century no longer applies to the drastic demands of the 21st century hospital settings and healthcare needs.  Nurses are still trained to handle the most common health-related issues, and little time is given to educate them on health policies, teamwork and collaboration, leadership and other qualities that are necessary to deliver better care to patients and make critical decisions during emergency situations.  The way that the field is set up today, nurses are forced to robotize their movements and care for the maximum number of patients available.  There’s a kind of empowerment and confidence that comes with being a healer, even if you remain anonymous in the eyes of those you helped, but the increasing demands allows nurses little time to connect with their patients.  “Laughter is the best medicine,” but how do nurses get the opportunity to comfort the people they care for, when the standards they are forced to follow limits their abilities?  Publicizing their experiences online through social media, sharing the do’s and don’t’s of the profession with potential nurses, or even taking comfort in the knowledge that they are not alone in the healthcare community when things go awry.  This use of social media results in a more empathetic and supportive role from others and it brings awareness of what a dramatic impact the nursing profession has on the average person.

 

1 “Nurses Needed.”  PBS. October 16, 2009.  http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/442/index.html