Archive for the ‘Nurse’ Category
While nurses generally receive less attention than doctors when it comes to television medical dramas, they represent the first line of defense when it comes to a patient’s health. Not only do nurses provide direct care by administering medications and other therapies, but they are also responsible for educating patients and monitoring their vital signs to ensure their safety. A good nurse, therefore, can often mean the difference between life and death.
The tragic death of Michael Jackson, for instance, might have been avoided if he had only listened to his nurse. When he asked to receive the drug propofol (a powerful anesthetic) to combat a sleep disorder, his nurse practitioner Cherilyn Lee refused to administer the drug because she knew that it was too dangerous to use outside of a properly monitored surgical setting. Unfortunately, her position as a private nurse did not grant her the authority to stop the “King of Pop” from finding a doctor who would grant his wishes, but her story can be a testimony for nurses needing the strength to deal with difficult patients.
Since nurses must constantly address the conflicting needs of others, growing a “spine” is considered to be the main trait that distinguishes a good one above the rest. Not only do they have to communicate with doctors, patients and families, but they also have to make firm decisions when faced with a dangerous situation. This is especially important considering the current state of the health care system, as violent attacks by patients have been on the rise due to hospital overcrowding. Nurses are now being trained to diffuse these situations by using a calm yet firm demeanor and by working as a team with nearby doctors and security guards. Learning to say “No” to a patient when they make foolhardy demands, then, can become the best medicine that a good nurse administers.
Strength of will is not the only important trait of a good nurse, as they are also a major source of emotional support for patients. A friendly touch can mean a great deal to a patient who is frightened and in pain because it reduces stress hormones. Dr. Anna B. Reisman observed these benefits firsthand, when one of the nurses she worked with relaxed a patient receiving a blood transfusion by massaging his back. In addition to providing physical comfort, nurses also help patients with chronic illnesses navigate their way through the health care system. Nurse Janine Couture, for example, helps breast cancer patients at the Brockton Good Samaritan Medical Center throughout each stage of their treatment by working as a liaison between their oncologists and primary physicians, and by offering emotional support for those suffering from the ravages of chemotherapy. Nurses such as Janine help patients feel better about themselves by treating them like human beings.
From these stories, it is easy to see that nurses lead a demanding and stressful life. The ability to make good decisions, to correctly administer treatments, and to provide comfort for suffering patients is necessary for anyone seeking a career in practical nursing. While the challenges in this career may seem daunting at first, the reward of seeing a healthy patient leave the hospital grounds (thanks to good nurses!) makes all the difference.
Brandi Tolleson received her master’s degree in English from Cal State Long Beach in 2007.
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