Sharon Jones Letka
Professor: Deidra Harp RN, MSN
Nursing 3303 Issues and Nursing Perspectives
Nursing over the years has evolved in the form of the roles that are fulfilled and expected involvement in the healthcare field. The changes that followed create a multitude of opportunities. In this paper we will discuss the changing role of nurses and its impact on healthcare today. We will also discuss why nurses should be involved in policies and politics and the importance of doing so.
Before the 1980’s nurses were primarily taught to be loyal to the physicians. Anything that the physician said was to be carried out by the nurse. What if a mistake was made? It fell on the nurse while the physician got nothing but a slap on the wrist. Advocacy and nurse autonomy simultaneously became a way for nurses to break free from simply being loyal to the physicians. Nurses began to have their own identity. It became not only acceptable but expected to question a physician’s order that would result in harm. Nurses are now beginning to be viewed by most as a partner to the physician.
Nurses, now more than 3 million, represent a large portion of the healthcare field. (AORN, 2013) As part of the nursing role, we are expected to prevent medical errors and reduce safety events. It is a common practice on the units to record these mishaps with incident reports and identify the cause. It is now the nurses who advocate for the patient to have their Foley catheter and central lines removed as we know that this is a major source of infection.
Another role of nursing is to educate patients and family members. Nurses begin educating at admission on disease processes, medications, and medication side effects. Nurses teach patients how to manage their illnesses and often how to prevent reoccurrences. The physician often comes in with a diagnosis and treatment that leaves patients with many questions. Nurses often clarify what the physician said as well as reinforce teaching.
A nurse’s assessment skills have become very valuable to the healthcare field. As nurses, we have the education and ability to recognize early signs of distress. Nurses become a vital part of preventing deaths from occurring. Being at the bedside, a nurse becomes “the eyes and ears” for the physician furthering the trust as a partner in healthcare. As the roles for nursing changes, so does the need for more education. The opportunities for nurses have also grown significantly. Part of the Magnet Status recognition is that at least 80% of registered nurses will hold a Bachelor of Science degree in a given facility. The units have expanded to employ not just bedside nurses and charge nurses but unit based educators, advanced practice nurses, and clinical nurse leaders as well. These nurses have gone beyond the bachelor degree and completed masters in nursing to be able practice leadership skills with the knowledge of evidence based practice and its direct reflection on better patient outcomes. It doesn’t stop at education, however. With the changing of the nursing “roles” come more laws and regulations that nurses should follow. Much of the time, the regulations are not written by nurses or anyone who actually have to try and follow them. That is why it is of upmost importance for nurses to become involved in policy making. We often hear the term engagement but are not fully aware of what that means. To be engaged with your facility is to be committed and emotionally involved. According to a study done by Gallop, ”nurse engagement is the number one predictor of mortality variation across hospitals.” (Blizzard, 2005) A common practice in the hospitals is to have shared governance meetings on each unit. This is usually a monthly meeting where nurses can discuss new policies and procedures that will be implemented. It can also be used to come up with ideas to better improve one’s already in place. Many