In praise of nurses

Posted on 12 May 2016

They say time is a healer, but hospital patients’ recovery is also dependent on the care of committed nurses. Clinical psychologist Ilse Pauw of Mediclinic Cape Town highlights the critical needs of recuperating patients and the various roles nurses play to fulfil them.

‘Nurses wear many hats,’ says Ilse Pauw, who has spent three years working with the nurses and carers of Unit G – an unusual mixed medical and psychiatric ward at Mediclinic Cape Town. ‘Their work is challenging and it’s incredible to witness the transformative part they play in a patient’s life and how involved they get in each individual’s journey.’

Let’s consider four functions nurses fulfil:

1. Medication Nursing is a profession that comes with tremendous responsibility and a high level of stress. Nurses need to see to and manage the regular administration of each patient’s prescription oral medication, injections, therapies or intravenous drugs. It requires a high level of attention to detail, care and monitoring, but also provides the chance to check in on patients at regular intervals.

2. Inspiration Nurses don’t provide only medical care. Their work encompasses patients’ emotional wellbeing too. While doctors and other medical professionals such as occupational therapists will check in on their patients once or twice a day, nurses are around 24/7. ‘They provide a recurrent presence as they interact with patients constantly,’ says Ilse. ‘This can be very reassuring to patients who may be feeling vulnerable or despondent.’

3. Organisation Nurses see to all the daily physical needs of their patients, whether it’s putting on fresh clothing or putting in a call to home to send for an item of comfort. ‘What always strikes me,’ says Ilse, ‘is the respect nurses show for the dignity of their patients, despite the fact that some patients can be quite challenging at times. On the whole, the nurses I’ve worked with are patient and non-judgmental regardless of the situation. In fact, that can be said of most of our hospital staff, including the cleaning and catering teams. It’s wonderful to see how they all contribute to creating a healing environment.’

4. Administration
Aside from direct patient care, nurses also play a huge administrative role. ‘When they’re not giving care, they are checking charts, completing forms, replenishing stocks, filing prescriptions and supporting doctors – and it’s all in a day’s work,’ says Ilse. ‘It’s easy to see how there would be a decline in patient recovery if any one of these tasks were to be overlooked. In honour of International Nurses Day, let’s celebrate their contribution and congratulate them on a job well done!’

Published in Patient Stories

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