What Makes Nurses so Important
Nurses are a vital component of the health care system. Whether considering the past, present, or future, the positive effect that nurses have on the physical and emotional health of patients is indisputable. In fact, statistics show that the more patients one nurse must care for, the higher the mortality rate in those patients.
Looking back at history, during the Civil War, nurses provided much of the care for the wounded soldiers. The number of soldiers wounded during the Civil War was overwhelming. Nurses were vital to the care of soldiers by taking care of bed linen, patient clothing, and hospital supplies (Ross & Foner 126). Nurses even did the cooking (126). Perhaps the most important function of nurses during the Civil War was to give comfort and companionship to wounded soldiers. There simply were not enough doctors to tend to all of the soldiers. Prior to the Civil War, nursing schools did not even exist (Egenes 6). Nurses had to learn on the job.
Finally, after the Civil War, nursing schools were established. From that time forward, nurses gained ground in certification, knowledge, responsibilities, and professional recognition. Now, no one can imagine clinics or hospitals without nurses.
Nurses are important in clinics as they take the patient’s vital signs, obtain medical histories, and gain an understanding of the patient’s current health issue. Often, patients feel more comfortable talking to nurses than to doctors. Nurses are perceived as having more time and patience than doctors. Often, patients feel nurses are better listeners. Based on these factors, nurses become instrumental in determining what exactly the patient is feeling and what may be wrong with the patient. Of course, nurses cannot diagnose but the information they gain is beneficial to the doctors. Doctors rely on the information obtained by the nurses to assist in making a diagnosis. Some doctors may even rely on their nurses so much that they discuss potential diagnoses with their nurses.
In hospitals, nurses monitor patients around the clock while a doctor may see a patient for only a few minutes a day. Nurses learn to read their patients from being around them for extended periods. This knowledge assists in determining a patient’s pain level and determining whether a patient is progressing in the right direction. If something seems off with the patient, the nurse can contact the doctor to determine the next step. Nurses may even catch mistakes on the patient’s chart such as dosing errors. While hospitalized, patients may feel more comfortable asking nurses questions about their condition, treatment, and medication. Patients need to have these questions answered to feel more confident in their treatment.
Studies have shown a relationship between “a nurse’s patient load and 30-day mortality” rates (Sherman 7). Each additional patient assigned to a hospital nurse increases mortality rates by seven percent (7). Clearly, nurses are needed in hospitals.
Nurses are important to health care as they provide a listening ear to the patient. Patients need their emotional needs tended to as much as their physical needs. Fortunately, nursing education has improved to the point that doctors and nurses work closely together to care for and treat their patients.
Egenes, Karen J. History of Nursing. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, n.d. Web. 7 Feb.
Ross, Kristie & Foner, Eric. Women are Needed Here: Northern Protestant Women as Nurses During the
Civil War, 1861-1865. Diss. Columbia University, 1993. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1993. Web. 7
Sherman, Fredrick T. “Nurses, Nurses, Nurses You Can’t Live Without Them!” Geriatrics. 1 Dec.
2002: 7-8. Web. 7 Feb. 2012.