Let’s start at the beginning…

Let’s start at the beginning. Why do you want to become a nurse? Here are some typical responses to that question:

I want to help people/make a difference in someone’s life.

My mother/grandmother/sister/aunt was a nurse

I want to marry a doctor

I want to make a lot of money

We’ll discuss these one at a time.

I want to help people/make a difference in someone’s life.” This is one of the most frequent statements I’ve heard. Nursing is a way of helping people and a good nurse can make a difference in someone’s life. As a nurse, you’re helping your patient through illness, surgery and procedures. All of these things can be very scary to a patient as well as to their loved ones. There are no guarantees in medicine. The patient may or may not recover from an illness or surgical procedure and any diagnostic procedure can have adverse consequences. That’s why patients or their families have to sign what’s called an “informed consent.” It means you are aware of all of the risks and benefits of the test or treatment and you are willing to accept those risks. In many cases, if you refuse treatment you have to sign a document which states your decision is  against medical advice and that by signing it you accept the consequences, which can include death. This is called a “worst case scenario.” There are times I’ve had to explain to patients what the doctor has said to them. I’ve also told patients (or their family) that they can refuse a treatment or procedure. Not all procedures are necessary, even if a medical person has told you that they are. Some doctors aren’t “happy campers” when a nurse tells them that the patient has refused a procedure or treatment. And they aren’t thrilled when I’ve told them that I don’t agree with what they plan to do. To be blunt, that’s too bad. Many years ago it was considered appropriate for the nurse to stand and give the doctor the nearest chair. Nurses are considered part of the health care team now and are on equal footing with other medical personnel. Unfortunately, there are still physicians out there who think nurses are their “handmaidens/slaves” to command. We call this having a “god” complex.  It sounds like I’ve gone off into a tangent but all of this relates to wanting to help people and make a difference in their lives. One of the most important roles a nurse can play is that of patient advocate. By being a patient advocate you ARE making a difference in someone’s life and that’s admirable.

Until next time, keep looking up,

Janet

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About iowan2nc

Living in Asheville with my husband Tony and son Gaberiel
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