By Luisa van der Linde
The first day you entered the nursing college your idea of being a nurse was probably one of giving pills and glasses to patients.
However, as soon as you started with training you realised that this occupation requires much more than just medical care. A huge part of taking care of patients consists of good people skills.
Esther Smit, programme director of Thuto Bophelo Nursing Academy, said she learnt from a good mentor was that you cannot work for respect, you receive it.
“Sometimes you have to look deeper into the psyche of a patient to understand why they react in a certain way.”
Esther means nursing is not just about handing out pills and making sure the right person gets discharged; it is about the holistic caring of a person as a whole: mind, body and soul.
“To build trust you must know how to work with people with different personality types and that is where a nurse’s heart is truly tested. Then a nurse also has to keep the patient as safe as possible and have the ability to be honest and communicate continuously.”
She gave the following practical tips:
The best, and right way, to introduce yourself is with a humble and soft smile. After you’ve introduced yourself, comfort the person by ensuring them that you’ll be by their side throughout the day to offer assistance and if they have any uncertainty, they are welcome to ask you.
The nursing team
Keep to the nursing plan that determines your specific patient’s needs. These needs are not only determined by the nursing staff, but by a multi-disciplinary team involved with the patient’s specifically.
The patient’s needs
Physically: Risks are determined by scales implemented throughout hospital wards. The scales used are Waterlow’s and Norten’s scales.
Emotionally: A nurse should use her instinct to observe how the patient is doing emotionally. If the patient’s emotional health becomes a psychological need then the need will be determined by the multi-disciplinary team.
Mentally: Because of so many different religions in South Africa the patient’s mental needs is a trap many nurses try to avoid, says Esther. She, herself is driven by the Holy Spirit, and prays and gets guidance from it. “Generally, I would start my day with a prayer. My motto for my religious need is to pray with so much intensity in the morning that when my feet hit the ground my enemies know I am awake and ready for my daily tasks.”
Indispensable nursing skills
Nursing is a very big task required from health workers. The patient remains your first priority at all times.
Esther says: “You must have the knowledge, heart and insight to know that each patient entering your ward is a different and unique case. There is never a dull moment. Nurses should also constantly receive training and do research to stay up to date with the latest news, medical studies and ways to do things. After all, you want your patient to enjoy the best care.”
Esther talks about:
A professional adult nurse can regulate herself and has self-control. Such a person demonstrates the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The professional adult nurse constantly evaluates him-/herself to identify his/her own shortcomings. A nurse is also familiar with all the professional regulations and rules, as well as any amendments.
Nurses should have a high regard for their patient’s privacy and treat their information with the highest confidentiality. They may never discuss the patient’s circumstances or diagnosis.
The ability to listen
To listen to people, in this case patients, is an art itself. When you nurse you must know who you are and what you stand for. When you listen, you must learn to watch your tongue and keep your opinion to yourself. That which upsets you, you must sort out by yourself in the scrubs room or at home with an aromatic cup of coffee.
Characteristics patients admire:
Esther says for you to nurse someone your heart must be in the right place. “You do not nurse merely to deserve your bread and butter. You nurse because you want to make a difference and because you have a heart for people. I always tell my learners that you don’t nurse because you care. You nurse because you want to make a difference in other people’s lives.
Compassion is the fine line that separates your personal heart from your nursing heart. “If you listen to all the problems daily with your personal heart, you will constantly walk around with a broken heart. That is why we are taught the difference between sympathy and empathy when we are trained as professional nurses.”
Ethical behaviour is all about the application of moral values. This provides guidance to a nurse on how to act and judge. Ethical behaviour in nursing is goal orientated and mental since it gives the nurse the chance to perform tasks in the most ethical way. The ethical conduct is prescribed in the Nursing Act.
Protection of sensitive information
Confidential information must be protected at all times and during training nursing students are drilled to manage sensitive information. There are rules and regulations in place that must be followed, as well as a policy and procedures.
That small voice in your brain can be the difference between life and death. Follow your intuition but discuss it with your team members in the ward. Especially if it is something that will have an impact on the patient’s health and outcome of their life.
Esther says it is very important to be honest. Integrity, which is accompanied by maintaining high standards, goes together with honesty. As a nurse you must be able to handle all these characteristics to give high quality care.
If the relationship between the nurse and the patient is unhealthy, the matter is discussed with the team at service and the unit manager becomes the mediator.
Esther says in such a case the root of the problem is identified and addressed. It is essential to investigate the case immediately and to give as much support as possible to the patient so that the patient will feel safe. In the meantime, the nurse is requested to present her case and to talk to the Human Resource Department for the correct protocol to be followed.
For more information visit www.nursingacademy.co.za or send an email to Esther at firstname.lastname@example.org