“Nurses all across the country serve as the first line of defence in the prevention of sickness and injury; these nurses play an essential role in keeping our society healthy and safe, they are indispensable” was the first statement made by the Congressman Glenn Thompson at the National Nurses Week on the theme “Nurses: Leading the Way” held on May 6, 2014 in Pennsylvania. This is in contrast to what most people consider nurses to be today in this part of the world especially in Nigeria. Nurses are seen as that poorly educated fellow who manages to be inculcated amidst the other health professionals with the purpose of doing menial hospital works or left over from other health professionals. To make the matter worse, most people considered nursing as a female profession; even other health professionals considers nurses as prostitutes or promiscuous fellows by the virtue of feminine dominant of the profession. Whereas, the nature of work of the nurse as a care giver brings him/her closest to the patient and as well work as close as possible with other health professionals; this has exposed it to public humiliation.
Nursing at Inception
Nursing actually started with the passion a young woman called Florence Nightingale had for caring for the sick. The woman with a lamp as she was often called alongside with other passionate young women gave all they had including themselves to the caring of wounded soldiers during the Crimean war. Some of the women, as a result of their inexperience and lack of proper education and ethics fell prey to the emotional bond that normally should be established with patients and other health professionals by nurses and they became married to some of the soldiers on getting well. Florence Nightingale began to clamour for more education for herself as well as other nurses in that line in order to strictly maintain a professional code of conduct and high level of practice in the profession. This was the beginning of nursing trainings and onset of the Modern day nursing.
The True Picture of a Nurse
A nurse is a health care professional who is engaged in the practice of nursing. Nurses are men and women who are responsible (along with other health care professionals) for the treatment, safety and recovery of acutely or chronically ill or injured people, health maintenance of the healthy, and treatment of life-threatening emergencies in a wide range of health care settings. Nurses may also be involved in medical and nursing research and perform a wide range of non-clinical functions necessary to the delivery of health care.
Digging into the Recent Trend in Modern Nursing
Nurses develop a plan of care, sometimes working collaboratively with physicians, therapists, the patient, the patient's family and other team members. As I try digging into the recent trend in nursing today, I discovered that in the U.S. (and increasingly the United Kingdom), advanced practice nurses, such as clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners, diagnose health problems and prescribe medications and other therapies. However, it is yet to be so in Nigeria as most of this advance practice courses are not offered in any of the Nigerian institution yet because most of them are offered as a master’s course or post graduate diploma. Only midwifery and some other specialization gives much room for a wide range of display of expertise in nursing. Nurses may help coordinate the patient care performed by other members of a health care team such as therapists, medical practitioners, dietitians, etc. Nurses provide care both interdependently, for example, with physicians, and independently as nursing professionals.
A Closer Look at the Modern day Nurses
According to the US Department of Labor's revised Occupational Outlook Handbook (2000), "Registered nurses (R.N.s) work to promote health, prevent disease, and help patients cope with illness. They are advocates and health educators for patients, families, and communities. When providing direct patient care, they observe, assess, and record symptoms, responses, and progress; assist physicians during treatments and examinations; administer medications; and assist in convalescence and rehabilitation. R.N.s also develops and manages nursing care plans; instruct patients and their families in proper care; and help individuals and groups take steps to improve or maintain their health."
Training of the Modern day Nurses
The nursing career structure varies considerably throughout the world. Typically there are several distinct levels of nursing practitioner, distinguished by increasing education, responsibility and skills. The major distinction is between task-based nursing and professional nursing.
In various parts of the world, the educational background for nurses varies widely. In some parts of Eastern Europe, nurses are high school graduates with twelve to eighteen months of training. For some time now in Nigeria, majority of the nurses are high school graduates with 3years training with or without an additional 18 months of post nursing school training (post diploma). However, the trend is changing as majority of the nurses in Nigeria are either currently running a bachelor degree in nursing or already holds a bachelor degree in nursing. Chile requires any Registered Nurse to have at least a bachelor's degree.
At the top of the educational ladder is the doctoral-prepared nurse. Nurses may gain the PhD or another doctoral degree such as Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), specializing in research, clinical nursing, etc. These nurses practice nursing, teach nursing and carry out nursing research. As the science and art of nursing has advanced, so has the demand for doctoral-prepared nurses.
Registered Nurses generally receive their basic preparation through one of three basic avenues: Graduation from an Associate of Science in nursing degree-granting nursing program (two to three years of college level study with a strong emphasis on clinical knowledge and skills) earning the degree of ASN/AAS or ADN in Nursing. This is not in Nigeria.
Graduation with a three-year (Diploma in Nursing) certificate from a hospital-based school of nursing (non-degree). Few of these programs remain in the U.S. and the proportion of nurses practicing with a diploma is rapidly decreasing.
Graduation from a university with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (five year program) in Nigeria but may be (4years) in other countries especially in Europe conferring the BSN/BN/BNSc degree with enhanced emphasis on leadership and research as well as clinically-focused courses).
Knowledge and Experience Based
Nurses are taught the major basic medical science courses as a bedrock or foundation for other learning although most institutions especially in Nigeria starts from the basic science courses like Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, English after which they advance to the basic medical courses like: Biochemistry, Physiology, Anatomy, Embryology, Histology, Microbiology and Parasitology, Epidemiology, Pharmacology and drug therapy. From here they advance into the Clinical courses sauced with rigorous clinical experiences; this includes: Medical surgical nursing, Maternal and child health, psychiatric nursing, community health, pediatric nursing, geriatric nursing and so on.
Nurses are been trained by lecturers with the necessary qualification and experienced in most practice. This in one way or the other is the reason for the display of professional and leadership skills by the modern day nurses.
This apologia was written in defense of nursing and to correct every wrong notion which people have about nurses. Nursing is not just a gender sensitive profession limited to just the females. Nurses are loving people by the virtue of the care they render yet they maintain strict professional conduct. Nurses have all it takes educationally to stand in the position they occupy as health care givers.
We do not compete with any other health professionals but rather work together to achieve the purpose of rendering health service to our clients.
By ADESUYI EMMANUEL O
RN, RM, BNSc.
Published in the Corps Health Team magazine; Imo state Sept. 2014