She is the dedicated nurse who works when many of us are already slumbered in bed. She is the trusted caregiver dedicated to a calling where each second, each life, and each cry matters more than her personal needs.
Many of us would recall that moment when we were sick in the ward, only to be comforted by the reassuring presence of these silent angels. Weren’t they the ones who walked us through our darkest nights?
For these nursing warriors, their work encompasses more than the physical rounds. Theirs is a package that requires meticulous diligence, compassion, empathy, and patience amidst urgent schedules battling life and death.
Most of the time, these nurses are burdened with more than their fair share of patients at one time, working on endless shifts. Yet, they toil on – powering it through – as the backbone of the hospital and the pillar of emotional support to the patients.
Undeniably, a big salute to these unsung heroes is much delayed.
The gender and professional divide in healthcareOver the past 100 years, women’s gains have outpaced men’s, especially in terms of rising IQ scores. Today, most nurses are highly educated and keep abreast of the changing trends in healthcare through continuous nursing education.
However, in a world where credentials count, doctors are put on the pinnacle of praise and respect, while their indispensable nursing colleagues are sidelined. Also, in a patriarchal society that applauds the male and submerges the female, many contributions of female nurses have been undervalued.
This is evident when a Florida anaesthesiologist posted demeaning and inflammatory comments about nurse practitioners.
“Nurse practitioners are not, I repeat, not physicians. They lack the education, IQ and clinical experience. There is no depth of understanding. They are useful, but only as minions,” ranted Dr David Glener on a medical social media network Doximity. His comments on Twitter drew criticisms from the public, many urging physicians to take a team-based approach and promote unity among health care professionals.
The series of post on the social media site has indirectly put Dr Glener in hot soup – where he has since reached out to Nurge.org community site, further explaining the “inflammatory comments” were posted by somebody else.
Regardless, female nurses are indeed facing economic disparities. Although women make up 91% of the nursing profession, they still earn USD4,000 to USD17,000 less, annually, than their male counterparts – depending on their specialty area.
In India, the scene is even more upsetting. Many nurses spend huge sums on their nursing degree, devoting their time to serving the weak and frail. Nonetheless, they remain poorly paid and many actually struggle to meet their family’s needs.
There have also been increasing incidences of sexual harassment among nurses. Some male nurses have reported being harassed; however, more than 50% are female nurses.
Nurses impact health outcomes; assist in decision-makingIt is perhaps time to put things into perspective: by addressing the gender and professional divide in healthcare and flattening of the hierarchy.
Nurses work long hours and rotating shifts, just like doctors. According to the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, 65% of nurses work 12 to 13 hour shifts several times a week; and many nurses claim that those shifts end up being closer to 14 hours in length.
While tending to the needs of patients, many nurses often forego their meals. In a study of 400 nurses during a 28-day period, 10% of participants reported they had no opportunity to sit down or eat.
Nevertheless, several studies have found that positive health outcomes for patients are actually closely linked to the nursing intervention.
A 2014 study found that the patient mortality rate was lowered by 10.9% when the hospitals increased their nursing staff by 10%. The findings also showed that patients who experienced complications after serious surgery recovered better in a hospital with a strong nurse force.
“Without a doubt, the ones that help me the most are the many wonderful nurses whom I have worked with over the years. Without the help of these hardworking people, who often have to carry out the most menial and unpleasant tasks, there is simply no way that my patients could get the care they deserve,” expressed healthcare practitioner Dr Sohail Gandhi.
In the final analysis, it is all about caring and competence, not title, paper or gender.
As in the words of Melissa D. Kalensky, assistant professor in the College of Nursing at Rush University and family nurse practitioner, “In my experience as a nurse, patients usually don’t prioritise a health care provider’s gender, title, or degree. They want to know you are competent. And that you care.” MIMS
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