I recently had the chance to visit Renji Hospital in Pudong, Shanghai to tour some of the patient wards.
This was my first glimpse of another country’s healthcare in action. I had heard very little about nursing in China, but what I did hear was that the patient load was very high. I found this to be true while walking through the wards, including the Neuro ICU, where the nurses had 4-6 patients. I can’t imagine taking care of that many ICU patients. In the U.S., I’ve only ever taken care of 2 ICU patients at one time, but maybe we try harder to save the patients that can’t be saved?
The theme for this year’s International Nursing Day is “Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective”. With the cost of healthcare rising, nurses make numerous decisions daily that impact the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire healthcare system. In this capacity, nurses have a unique role to reduce health costs and increase quality of care. Nurses are the largest group of healthcare professionals, and also, the largest cost, however, by cutting nurses, patient safety and quality of care suffer.
Despite and because of their numbers, nurses need to work collaboratively with other health care providers, to provide holistic care to patients. We are no longer focused on curing only the illness, but tending to the patient’s mind and spirit as well. Nurses are at the patient’s bedside, and are vital to coordinate care and services provided by different health professionals. This means that the nurse-doctor relationship is paramount to avoid adverse events, errors, and poor patient outcomes.
Regardless of the differing patient load, equipment, medications and providers, nursing is a very demanding profession. We take care of patients when they are at their sickest, and most vulnerable. We take care of patients with severe infections, putting the patient’s health above our own. During our shifts, we record, listen, counsel, educate, treat, medicate and advocate, only to turn around and do it all again the next day. We do this because our work matters, because we make a difference in our patients’ lives.
Let’s continue to improve the care of our patients by being focused on conserving resources, improving relationships among health care providers, and continuing to make a difference in our patients’ lives.
Let’s do it for the future of nursing.