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The NSPA Blog

Why Nurses Matter

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Posted on April 23rd, 2017 by Teri Dreher, under Clinical Trends, Inspiring Stories

Nurses Put Care into Healthcare

Nurses are the heart of healthcare

This past week I had a memorable and inspiring experience.  I spoke about my role and career path as a private professional RN patient advocate to a group of graduating nurses at the College of Lake County.  Fifty nursing students were packed into the classroom lab, many of them getting ready to graduate in three months and enter the workforce.

Most of all, these students wanted to know what was “around the bend”.  Furthermore, they were eager to learn what they could expect when they entered the real world of modern day healthcare. Several other seasoned nurses from various specialties were invited and offered testimonies and advice for the student nurses getting ready to take the big exam.

I was inspired, humbled and excited for them. I looked into their eyes and saw the excitement and nervousness, the eagerness to go out and make a difference in the world. And I thought “How lucky am I to be a nurse!”

We’ve Come a Long Way

Today’s hospital nurses have a more difficult role than when I graduated.  I was taught to spend time with my patients, develop thorough treatment plans and hone my assessment skills.  We spent a lot of time with patients and could identify even a small change that could lead to a catastrophe.  

One of my most memorable instructors was a non-nonsense Army nurse. She would walk us into a patient’s room and instruct us to stand there for two minutes.  Our assignment was to notice as many things as we could about the room, the patient and the environment.  The contest was who remembered the most details and recorded them.  The student who recalled the most accurate details about the room and patient would win.  The point was to develop astute observation skills.  Those skills would lead into critical judgement/observation practice that would save lives and influence treatment.  The ability to observe, evaluate, assess and report changes to the doctor could have a tremendous impact on the patient’s care.  We were the eyes and ears for the doctors who were dependent upon good nursing care.  

Healthcare Today

Consequently, many of those skills are lost because of the required documentation needs and computerization.  Two thirds of nurses’ time is being spent on the computer.  This is our modern world of healthcare. Sadly, most practitioners do not have time to read all that charting.  Unskilled Patient Care Technicians perform a great portion of patient care, focusing on non-medical daily tasks.  The nurses are there to administer medications and do brief assessments once or twice per day, or to change wound dressings.

But nursing remains in my mind, the most noble, highest calling of any profession I can imagine. We heal, we comfort, we treat conditions and help mend broken hearts. Does it hurt sometimes? Absolutely…but in the end there is the joy, the peace that comes from knowing that we make a difference every single day we go to work.

I am a rare 39 year veteran of ICU nursing and I loved it so much…countless cards, emails and memories of thankful patients who told me I saved their loved ones’ lives.  They give me strength for the battles I face today as a professional advocate.

Those shining faces of student nurses earlier this week really touched my heart. The advice I gave them in the end was simple: “Don’t you ever let anyone tell you that the computer is more important than the patient! It never will be; every day you have a choice: to take the time to listen, to go out of your way to bring comfort and healing, to go the extra mile to make sure your patient gets superior care. Be courageous. Nurses make the difference. We are the ones who bring the CARE to healthcare: go out and change the world!”

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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