Nurses represent the largest single group of medical professionals. They are constantly on the frontline of patient care, which naturally gives this segment of the medical community a tremendous impact on patient experience--as well as health outcomes. It is virtually impossible to understate the important role that nurses play in healthcare.
Image by Salauno - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
On a purely analytical level, there is more than enough concrete evidence to prove that nurses are essential to the medical field. Numerous studies have shown that hospitals with low staffing levels of nurses usually have higher rates of poor patient outcomes. In a hospital with a shortage of nurses one is likely to see much higher instances of pneumonia, shock, cardiac arrest, UTIs, and a number of other preventative conditions. Hospitals that are understaffed with nurses will see a quantitative, measurable increase in such adverse health effects. However, looking at the impact of nurses from just this systematic, data-driven level can only offer a one-dimensional perspective on how nurses affect healthcare outcomes and patient experience. Christine Belle, RN, BSN said it best when she stated “our job as nurses is to cushion the sorrow and celebrate the joy, every day, while we are ‘just doing our jobs.’”
"Florence Nightingale". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Drawing on the influence of Florence Nightingale, nursing is a profession that combines scientific knowledge, technical skills, and respect for human dignity. Nurses tend to share similar sets of values with one another, including honesty, compassion, responsibility, prevention of suffering, patient happiness, and selflessness. Becoming a great nurse means committing to go that extra mile for your patients. For over a decade, Gallup studies have indicated public perceptions of nurses ranked #1 for trust, honestly, and ethics—coming in at 12% higher than any other profession. Effective healthcare is a team effort, and nurses are often the most visible to patients of all the medical staff. They play a unique role in delivering high-quality, compassionate care.
“Our job as nurses is to cushion the sorrow and celebrate the joy, every day, while we are ‘just doing our jobs.’” -Christine Belle, RN, BSN
Because they are constantly interacting with patients, nurses can really make or break the patient experience. Nurses will find that their work will benefit if they are able to see though the eyes of their patients in order to deliver quality healthcare with respect, empathy, communication, and engagement. With every patient interaction, nurses have an opportunity to create a relationship with the patient, shaping the life of that individual and their loved ones. Nurses play an absolutely integral role in defining the patient experience and increasing patient satisfaction.
And lets not ignore the fact that nurses must take on the immense responsibility of effective yet personal caregiving while being peed on, pooped on, puked on, being yelled at, having to hold their bladder for hours on end, and worrying about medical errors and omissions. It takes a special kind of person to handle this situation with dignity and compassion—these are individuals who change lives every day. We applaud all these women and men who have dedicated their lives to provide dignified healthcare and respect for their patients. The deep influence of nurses is in a word, invaluable, and the significance of these individuals can never be understated.