Nursing is called a noble profession for a reason, it is not just about treating a patient, but also giving them comprehensive care and family-like support throughout their recovery process. It is about ensuring that the patients know there’s someone to look after them, a caring professional who will be there to help them throughout. It takes a great deal of perseverance, dedication and commitment to serve as a nurse with the complexity of disease condition and technological advancements. Earlier what was considered to be an occupation that only involved caring has now changed to become a profession that involves caring as well as curing.
Nurses have time and again, proved that they are extremely important fraction of the health sector and full partners to medical professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic was one such chaotic crisis where the nurses shouldered equal responsibilities with doctors playing an extended role and were involved in care efficient and cost-efficient services. I can vouch that without nurses, the conditions would have been extremely difficult to handle. The abilities of the nurse to carry out various jobs, learning new skills, and adapting to a different environment were the driving force that kept the hospitals functioning during the pandemic. The pandemic did not only showcase the competency of the nurses but also the importance of them.
My team of nurses at Continental and Gleneagles Global Hospitals Group worked a day in and day out to serve our patients suffering from COVID-19. Within a few days, they were able to learn about the virus and nursing management of patients with COVID-19. They were the most preferred team members for the doctors in planning, diagnosing, treating and evaluating patients’ progress. They helped several patients recover without any severe complications and lessened the economical burdens on the family and the payors. Nurses went beyond caring, predicted early warning signs and collaborated with doctors in making the right clinical decision. They followed best practices of care to hasten recovery, early discharge and prevented readmission by their education and guidance to the patients they cared for. My nurses never missed to wear pleasant smile behind mask, gentle gestures in COVID full suit, warm touch with gloved hands, empathetic words heard beyond N 95 mask and face shiels. They stood tall in their heroic expression when they assisted patient in non-invasive ventilation, collected samples for COVID test, stood close to the patients while performing aerosol-generating procedures, meeting the nutritional, hygienic and elimination needs of the patient and assisting in birth and in end-of-life care. The nurse was the family for the patient when the visitors were restricted in the COVID ICU and wards. Nurses used all their talents such as singing, praying, reading stories and spiritual books to patients, used humour, motivational small talks and connected with their loved ones through WhatsApp and online modes to delight patients with COVID-19.
If you ask me what has led to such drastic and positive changes in the field of nursing, I would say it is the improved standard of education and training, nursing philosophy, vision, mission, values, code of ethics and technological advancements. With improved education, the foundation of knowledge is strengthened and making nurses who are capable of learning and adapting new skills without facing any issues. Improved code of ethics gives a sense of security to those entering the profession and attracts more individuals to it. And lastly, technological advancements have made it possible and easier for nurses to help their patients more efficiently and accurately. With all these positive changes I see the future of nursing in India to be bright and progressive. Nursing centres of excellence, Global Nursing Education system, collaborative care, nurse clinicians, robotic nursing, specialization and super specialization in nursing, telenursing, Young Nursing leadership development, nursing research and collaboration, nursing informatics, preventive care and nurses as business leaders are the way forward. However, there are still certain concerns that need to be addressed.
There is a massive shortage of nurses in India and the major reasons being, the migration of nurses to foreign countries. Indian nurses are highly competent, dedicated and committed and therefore are valued in foreign countries. Nurses from India migrate to a foreign land where they get a higher education, career advancement, lateral entry to medicine, evolve as nurse practitioners, and earn more respect and better compensation than they could in India. Adding to the shortage of nurses is the fact that we Indians think of nursing to be a secondary or inferior profession to medicine. We fail to understand that nursing walks alongside medicine and surgery and that nurses too are highly educated and capable. Behind every successful treatment and surgery, there are a team of nurses whose untiring efforts results in cost-effective and care efficient services. For India to become a global leader in the healthcare and medical field, we must appreciate and value our nurses and give them the respect they deserve because, without them, the system will fall apart.
Lastly, I have a message for all the nurses, the future of nursing in the nation will be bright if only the future of the nation is bright. We are well aware of the equipment we use and the impact them on nature. Syringes, tubes, drains, disposables, PPE kits, surgical masks, etc. When they are disposed of carelessly, can cause severe harm to the environment. Although we cannot stop using them, we can ensure that they are disposed of properly so that no major harm is caused to the environment. Nurse innovators who are interested in product designing are to be encouraged so that they can contribute towards building Greener Healthcare by minimizing Biomedical waste generation, thereby protecting the soil, air and water. Together, we can make healthcare green and sustainable to give our nation a healthier future. Nurses can make a difference and impact if recognized, respected and rewarded for being a care hero at the bedside and a business hero at the boardroom.
By Dr Jothi Clara. J. Micheal
Director of Nursing, India Operations Division, IHH Healthcare India (Gleneagles Global Hospitals Group and Continental Hospitals)