What Is Nursing Care?
Nurse – a Healthcare Professional
Many people think of nurses as a doctor's helper, or a person in the hospital that is there to do all the chores necessary for the patient; so exactly what is nursing care?
A nurse is a healthcare professional, whose focus is on the care of the patient, their families, and even communities. They work to help a patient recover from illness or surgeries and to improve the quality of life from conception to death.
Nurse as Primary Caregiver
While Hippocrates is considered to be the “father of modern medicine”, Florence Nightingale was the first woman who was well educated, came from a wealthy family and earned the respect and acceptance for nursing to be a respectable profession. This occurred during the Crimean War, and the profession has obviously grown dramatically since those times.
Today’s nurses are very well educated, and there is a whole body of science behind their profession. This makes them uniquely different from the doctor. Essentially, when you enter the hospital, it is the nurse who will be your primary caregiver, not your doctor. Nurses are the ones who stay with you and watch for those subtle changes that might be missed by the doctor, who only comes into your room once or possibly twice a day.
When a doctor or nurse practitioner admits someone to the hospital, they advocate a plan of care for that patient, however, nurses also have a nursing care plan for that patient, which is different from the doctors.
The foundation of a nursing care plan is to document the signs, symptoms or responses that the patient is having to their physical problems. A nurse is an advocate for the patient, and they will explain procedures, plus help you navigate your way through the complex healthcare system, particularly when you have a serious diagnosis like cancer.
Many people don't know what to expect and don't really know the right questions to ask their doctor. When your doctor asks you if you have any questions, often you may not know the right questions to ask. So, it might be helpful if you ask your doctor, “What would you want to know if you were me?
Nursing care plans are useful in the hospital and even at home if someone is ill, because they take everything into account. This would include a physical assessment, a dietary assessment, any necessary wound care and what physical limitations might be necessary to aid in recovery. They even take social and spiritual issues into account.
Importance of Communication with your Nurse
The more qualified nurses who are at the bedside, the better the outcome is for the patient. Ideally, staffing in a good hospital would have one nurse assigned to five or six patients on a medical or surgical floor, and in critical care one nurse would only take care of one or two patients. The severity of the patient's condition should determine the staffing requirements.
Nurses realize that people don't always tell the whole truth, but it is so important for patients to understand nurses are not judgmental, and the questions nurses ask are for a purpose. So, the truth is essential to quality patient care, particularly prior to surgery.
One example question would be, did you drink any alcohol last night? The patient might answer I had two glasses of wine while the truth is they had five or six drinks. It is essential that the patient tell the nurse exactly how much they had to drink, what kind of medication they have taken, including herbal remedies and pain pills. The amount of anesthesia may vary depending on the documentation of the nurse.
The liver has to detoxify all the drugs and any alcohol. If you are scheduled for surgery they need to know what you have ingested the night before because it makes a difference as to the amount of anesthesia necessary to keep you asleep during surgery. I don't think anyone wants to wake up in the middle of the surgery, but it can and does happen on rare occasions when the staff does not have all the right information.
Here is a list of a few suggestions for the patient in and out of the hospital:
- Carry a card in your wallet that lists any disease you have, along with a current list of your medications.
- If the patient is in critical care do not bring them plants or flowers, as bacteria and allergies can interfere with recovery.
- If you have a friend or relative in the hospital that is very ill, make your visit short, as often the patient needs as much rest as possible. They try to stay awake because you're visiting them, which is not in their best interest.
- When you are told not to eat or drink anything after midnight, that means no mints, gum or any liquid. If you have something on your stomach and are put to sleep it is possible that the stomach contents can get into the lungs and cause pneumonia.
- Ask questions. You have the right to know exactly why you are having a procedure, what it entails and what to expect following the procedure.
Sometimes patients might say, “I don't understand what that doctor wants me to do." Or “I'm not so sure that this is the right treatment for me." The nurse as your advocate might suggest that you get a second opinion, so you can have the best outcome.
Nurses consider this a nursing code, so their patient can get the best care. The nurse is not concerned with bruising the doctor's ego, as the patient is their primary concern. If you are looking for a new doctor, you want to find one that's busy, because this indicates he is successful.
Many times patients are afraid to take too muchpain medication, even after surgery, but this is the most important time to manage your pain before it gets out of control.
After surgery you need to be able to do some deep breathing, coughing and sit in a chair. All of this is to prevent blood clots in your legs and so you won't get pneumonia. Proper pain medication is an essential component to your recovery.
Nurse Talking with Patient
Nursing Care at Home
- If you burn your hand or fingers at home, pour some milk over ice cubes and soak the burned area for about 15 min. or you can make a compress to put on the burn. This works better than just cold water because the protein and the lipids in the milk help heal the burn.
- If you have a problem with itching, menthol has anti-inflammatory properties and also Marionic acids, so you brew some mint leaves into a tea. When the tea cools off, soak the cloth in the mixture and place the cloth on the area for several minutes until you feel some relief.
- If you are looking for the perfect solution for a hangover, Pedialyte works very well. When you've had too much to drink your electrolytes get depleted and you can become dehydrated. When you have had too much to drink, your electrolytes get depleted, and you can become dehydrated. Pedialyte will rehydrate your system adding electrolytes, and this works much faster than your typical sports drink.
Summary of Patient Care
The primary point of this article is to enhance your understanding of nursing care. If you use your nurse as an advocate, ask her the important questions and let her help you in many ways.
Pain management and other concerns will make your hospital experience much improved. Most nurses are very caring, and when you are ready to leave the hospital they will send you home with a home healthcare plan and a smile.
The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.