With Inemesit Udoma
Nursing profession is one of the most underrated and misunderstood professional in the Nigerian society. Despite constituting the largest number of global health care professionals and being the most predominant component of any hospital personnel infrastructure (in the United states, the number of registered nurses is more than four times the number of practicing physicians). The truth remains that very few people understand the exceeding roles and responsibilities of nurses until they are in need of nursing care themselves.
Nursing and their contributions are vital components of any reliable healthcare organization striving for zero patient harm and quality Care. It has been suggested that hospitals promoting better nursing environments with above-average staffing ratios experience lower patient mortality, particularly for patients considered “high-risk”.
According to Terry Fulmer, president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, “whether people know it or not they come into hospitals for nursing care”. For example, if a patient comes in for surgery, that operation may last hours, but subsequent nursing care may be required for days, weeks, and even months, depending on the patient’s trajectory.
Surgery is one thing but it is the nursing care post-surgery that will determine how quickly patients recover, the success or failure of the intended surgical outcomes, and the quality of life recovered during a tenuous post-operative phase. In essence, the success and failure of the surgical, gynecological, obstetrical, ophthalmology, dental, oncological, psychiatric and various medical cases are determined by the quality of nursing care services.
Unfortunately in Nigeria, there are times when nurses, whose services are critical to patient’s treatment outcome, are not involved in patient care, plan and management. Over here, the understanding of the public on who a nurse is, is so confusing because of the infiltration of the divine professional jurisdiction of nursing practices by quacks. The knowledge deficit is so massive that any female or anyone seen in white is called a nurse; this, whatever misdemeanor coming from such a person is anchored on the image of the noble profession of nursing.
It is rather unfortunate however, that this lack of a deep understanding of the importance of the nursing profession and the resultant underrating of nursing is having adverse effects not only on healthcare systems but also on economies of the nations, continents and the world at large. There is no gainsaying that the nursing profession forms the pivot around which all other health professions revolve and as such is a determinant of the health care system in the society.
It has been recognized that the health system of any country is a reflection of how its nursing professionals are regarded and treated ‘the wealth of our nations depends on the health of our populations, and the health of our populations depends on nursing.
Nursing according to Virginia Henderson, a distinguished American nurse education and writer defines it as, “The art and science of caring, aimed at assisting the individual sick or well in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or peaceful death) that he would have performed unaided if he has the strength, with or knowledge, and to do this in such a way as to help him gain independence, “rapidly as possible” she further stated that, “this aspect of her work, this part of her functions, she initiates and controls, she is master”.
The American nurses Association defines nursing as the protection, promotion and optimisation of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the international council of the care of individuals, families, communities and populations.
The International Council of Nursing (ICN) while expatiating these two definitions stated as follows: 1: nursing as the integral part of the health care system, encompasses the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and Care of physically ill, mentally ill, and disabled people of all ages in all heath care and other community setting. Within this broad spectrum of health care, the phenomena of particular corner to nurses are individual, family and group “responses to actual or potential health problems”.
These human responses range broadly from health restoring reactions to an individual episode of illness, to the development of policy in promoting the long term health of a population. The unique function of nurses is caring for individuals, sick or well.
Inemesit Udoma is ND2 student of Peace Institute of Management and Technology (Peace Poly) in Abak local government area