Noting that pretty much everyone has been cared for by a nurse, a nurse practitioner, or a licensed practical nurse, the editorial recognizes “all in the nursing profession who have come so far since Florence Nightingale founded the modern nursing movement.”
Nurses have always been important but are becoming even more important for a variety of reasons, including changes in the law and industry trends. Nurses are an integral part of a patient’s medical team and are consulted along with the primary care doctor, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, and more. Nurses are also increasingly taking on an advocacy role, studying patient histories and catching mistakes in medications.
They’re also doing more in-home care, due to health insurance trends towards shorter hospital stays.
And nurse practitioners can write prescriptions and do some of the more routine tasks that doctors usually do, thereby easing some of the pressures on the system and filling the gap left by the decreasing number of family doctors and general practitioners.
Nurses aren’t just generalists anymore. All require continuing education, and many require certification in a specialty, such as surgery, pediatrics or trauma. As was recently reported in the Reading Eagle, some nurses even are trained in the specialty of collecting forensic evidence from rape victims to be used by law enforcement in court cases.
Along with all the other changes in the profession, technology has changed nursing in ways that still are being measured.
As The New York Times reported in January: “In just a few years, technology has revolutionized what it means to go to nursing school, in ways more basic – and less obvious to the patient – than learning how to use the latest medical equipment.
“Nursing schools use increasingly sophisticated mannequins to provide realistic but risk-free experience; in the online world Second Life, students’ avatars visit digital clinics to assess digital patients.
“But the most profound recent change is a move away from the profession’s dependence on committing vast amounts of information to memory. It is not that nurses need to know less, educators say, but that the amount of essential data has exploded.”
We hope that the use of technology doesn’t replace the personal care members of the nursing profession are known for and that attracts men and women to the profession.
It is that personal care that we and other members of the health care profession depend on.