Why nurses are the heart of healthcare

March 23, 2022 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Heroes

If you’ve never been cared for by a nurse, you likely will be eventually.

Nurses are the foundation of healthcare. They play a vital role in providing care, comfort and compassion for their patients and patients’ families.

Despite their caring demeanor, nurses would rather not see you in the hospital. Preventive healthcare is their priority for patients — getting regular checkups and keeping health concerns from developing into a serious condition is key to avoiding the hospital, not to mention the intensive care unit.

"One of the biggest things is preventative healthcare," says Marguerite Manseau, RN, at Edward Hospital. “If your baseline overall health that has accumulated over 40 plus years is not good, a lot of the conditions people develop that land them in the hospital are not as easy to cure."

Many chronic conditions can be prevented by living a healthier lifestyle.

Also, stay on top of warning signs. "Listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, get it checked out," says Marijana Vidovic, RN, at Elmhurst Hospital.

What it means to be a nurse

Being a nurse isn’t always easy. Nurses work hard. During the pandemic, and even before, nurses have experienced burnout. They emotionally invest in their patients and patients’ families, which can be exhausting during tough times. It’s even contributed to a national nurse shortage.

There are also times nurses need a thick skin. They can face heartbreaking situations, and it can be a stressful job. But nurses are realistic. Knowing what to expect and having the support of a team helps them get through stressful times.

"Having a level head is sometimes difficult. We're human and have emotions," Manseau says. "There are days you leave work and you're just so physically tired from not just how much physical work you've done but how much mental work. That accumulates over time.

"Being bombarded by anything and everything for 12 hours means nurses need to find healthy channels to get support and blow off steam so we avoid compassion fatigue."

Staying in the moment and maintaining perspective helps, the nurses say. Connection with the nursing team is also crucial for mental well-being, as nursing coworkers understand what each other is facing and can offer vital support.

The rewards

Becoming a nurse starts with nursing school. A good foundation in nursing school helps nurses understand and think critically about their duties.

Technology is involved in every aspect of a nurse’s day. From electronic records to the pharmacy and bedside technology, nurses need to know how it all works.

Nurses don’t just provide clinical care and medication, they provide emotional support for their patients and the patient’s family members, which is particularly important in the hospital where it helps to have a human connection during what is often a scary time.

Nurses work together and help coordinate care from physicians, physical therapists and others to do what's best for each patient. Working with the team is a rewarding part of the job, says Vidovic. Watching a patient walk out of the hospital after a lengthy hospitalization or being on a ventilator is also an amazing reward, they say.

Nurses are needed now more than ever

Nurses are in high demand, as the American healthcare industry faces a shortage of nurses. And it’s not just bedside nurses — there is so much you can do as a nurse beyond working in a hospital. You can become a teacher; you can become an APN. You can always expand your skills — specialize, do clinicals or teach. That's the beauty of a nursing degree.

"Really, if you think about your daily life, there's probably a nurse involved in some capacity at every step,” Manseau says. “Elementary school, there’s a nurse. You can work in an operating room. You can work at the bedside. You can teach. If you have a specific interest in something, you can find a program to get certified in it.”

Nurses are an unstoppable force. Providing care, comfort and compassion is all in a day’s work. In this Health 360 with Dr. G podcast episode, “Shout out to nurses: Heroes in healthcare,” host Mark Gomez, MD, and his guests discuss nurse life and the future of nursing. Listen to the podcast.

Edward-Elmhurst Health is hiring nurses! Learn more about nursing and search for nursing opportunities.

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