Nurses are the first lifelines that patients meet when they enter different healthcare settings. Nursing proves to be one of the largest work forces in America, with over 4.2 million registered nurses (RN) nationwide – with over 80% of those nurses still within the workforce. Whether you see them in your primary care physician’s office or at the hospital or one of the many clinic settings in between, nurses will be there every step of the way to be your advocate and help you on your journey to better health and wellbeing.
Nurses Are Patient Advocates
One of the many reasons that nurses and their skills are invaluable is how they advocate for their patients. Nurses of all kinds spend time with their patients and their families. They see the good, the bad, and the ugly, not only from patients, but from the healthcare system. They know what it will take to make sure their patient gets the attention they need. Not only that, but nurses are the patient’s liaison to their doctors and treatments. They will follow patients throughout their journey where the doctors cannot.
As current ANU Nursing student Shane Hurt says, “the doctors can’t go in and see the patient, and then go put the orders in, and follow the patient. The nurse is the patients advocate. You have to make a connection with the patient, the doctors don’t have time to do that.” He goes on to explain how nurses communicate with their patients, “if they have a need or if something is going on with them, you’re the first one to see if they’re getting frustrated… Just by talking to people, you can head off a lot of those frustrations ahead of time if you stay in touch with your patients.”
Patients of all backgrounds will be with nurses at every intervention of their health. The care and time nurses put into the people they see makes them one of the most important arbiters of health in the industry. Without nurses, patients would not have a strong hand to guide them through the intricacies of health and would be without advocacy or deep connections.
Nurses Provide More Than Healthcare
As stated, nurses are the first advocate a patient will meet on their journey to bettering their health and wellbeing. However, nurses are not merely beings meant to do the tedious work as an agent for the doctor. In fact, RNs are not assistants to other fields, but rather they work collaboratively with doctors, medical assistants, CNAs, and others employed in healthcare.
Not only that, RNs are not operative to just deliver medicine and treatment, but care and compassion as well. Nurses fight for their patients – whether that is making sure they receive adequate care or kicking out unwanted visitors or anything in between. They are also there to bring comfort to their patients – from holding hands when the patient receives hard news or an ear to listen to when the patient needs to talk to someone. Because nurses are with patients at every step, and making connections as student nurse Shane Hurt explained, they are more than healthcare professionals. Nurses are supporters, friends, carers, and the heart of healthcare.
Education: Learning and Teaching
Nurses are the healthcare providers that patients will see the most, thus nurses are the people that patients will learn the most. While doctors are renowned for their knowledge on diagnosis, treatment, and the ins and outs of health, nurses are the ones that make that information accessible to patients. Nurses become the teachers as they take what could be overwhelming information overload into something accessible for patients to digest.
A nurse’s ability to teach comes from their education. While all RNs earn their associate degree in nursing, many are moving to earn their baccalaureate degrees. According to American Association of Colleges of Nursing, as of 2020 “65.2% of the RN workforce earned a baccalaureate or higher degree as their highest level of nursing education.” More nurses are in the workforce with higher degrees, which provide patients with more informed healthcare supporters to help them navigate their health journey.
American National University offers an RN to BSN bridge to those RNs looking to earn their bachelor’s degree to increase their understanding and role in their career. Students in those programs understand the development and implementation of national and international health care policy, incorporate community resources to meet primary and tertiary needs for individuals, families, communities, and populations, and more.
The Need for Nurses
The Baby Boomer generation is known for being the biggest generation and birthing boom in history. However, as that generation ages, the more the need for nurses grow to assist in round-the-clock care, end-of-life care, and assisted living homes. According to the National Library of Medicine, not only to a lot older persons have more than one ailing health issue, but “the population is surviving longer, as a whole, causing an increased use of health services as well. Many disease processes that were once terminal are now survivable for the long term. Treating these long-term illnesses can strain the workforce.” While there are more than 4 million registered nurses in America, about one million of those nurses are over the age of fifty and getting closer to retirement age. The need for nurses is on the rise as the largest generation ages and takes one third of the work force with it.
The care, expertise, and knowledge a nurse brings to every healthcare setting proves again and again to be of the upmost importance to all. Not only do they make diagnoses, treatments, and care more accessible to patients, but they provide support and care where a patient may not receive it elsewhere. Every person that has come into this world has been handled, cared for, and supported by a nurse. Nurses are the heart of healthcare. Learn more about the nursing programs that ANU offers to those looking to be patient advocates and an arbiter of healthcare at an.edu.
American National University – Be live, in class, from anywhere.