Is This What it is Supposed to be Like?

Is This What it is Supposed to be Like?
April 2022 Connections - President’s Message

Recently I was talking to nurse leaders at a hospital on the east coast. We were discussing the state of their nursing unit and all the new staff they have. 

They told me that one of their nurses with 2 years of experience—all during the pandemic—asked them, “is this what it is like?” 

The leaders confirmed with the nurse that yes, these are our regular medical-surgical patients with our standard patient-nurse ratios. They said they could just see the weight lifted from the nurse’s shoulders. 

...yes, these are our regular medical-surgical patients with our standard patient-nurse ratios.  They said they could just see the weight lifted from the nurse’s shoulders. 

It was the first time she had worked a shift without being in crisis mode since she became a nurse. I understand not every hospital or unit is at this state yet and many things are in flux, but it was great to hear that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. 

It is true that before the pandemic we had workflows and processes that we considered normal, and we were relatively happy with them. However, we need to keep pushing ourselves and our institutions to do better because we had problems that were not adequately addressed.

As our new nurses learn what being a medical-surgical nurse is like outside of a crisis, let’s not settle for “how it is supposed to be.” Let’s ask our new colleagues and ourselves how we want it to be and build our ideal.  

You may be asking how we can have an impact and build our future. There are many avenues to influence medical-surgical nursing and health care as a whole.

A few ideas include going back to school to get an advanced degree, becoming certified in your specialty, joining AMSN or another professional organization to gain a big picture view of nursing, or joining an AMSN committee or task force to provide input and a have a voice in creating an AMSN product or service.

Even contributing to a conversation thread on The Hub is impactful and helps your colleagues across the country.

At work, join a hospital committee, seek out opportunities to go to meetings or conferences, work with the performance improvement or quality department to test one of your ideas—then present a poster or publish your findings.

All these methods are ways to influence how care is provided, which products are purchased, or how a protocol or policy is written. Nurses must be part of these activities to shape the environment in which we practice and provide patient care.

I do not think we should just go back to our pre-pandemic normal. The pandemic highlighted many of the issues and challenges we’ve had in nursing and healthcare for years.

It is time to resolve the issues or do things differently to improve our practice areas, ensure we have the resources needed to care for patients, and advocate for nurses’ safety.

We have a wonderful opportunity to use our collective nursing voices to move our profession forward, and as we do that, we will create safer, more holistic environments for our patients and ourselves. 

THE HUB
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