The Foundation of Nursing Hasn't Really Changed

A new year usually brings reflections of the years past and questions about the year(s) to come. At the pace of change in healthcare, it's not hard to see the many...

A new year usually brings reflections of the years past and questions about the year(s) to come.

At the pace of change in healthcare, it’s not hard to see the many transformations that have occurred over the past few decades. Nurses in developed countries are often performing tasks that once were the domain of physicians, and nurses are working with equipment that seemed to be the stuff of science fiction not all that long ago.

The patients the nurses care for now are sicker than they were 30 or 40 years ago. The patients are living longer with more chronic illnesses and they need more care and intervention.

But, has nursing itself really changed from its very core? Has the reason for nursing care changed?

The definition of a nurse is someone is trained and skilled to help a person in need of healthcare—physical or mental. A nurse is trained to assess a patient’s needs and to make decisions and carry out tasks to help a patent recover optimum function, maintain function, or prevent injury or disability. Whether this practice is in rural Africa or a cosmopolitan city, that basic premise still exists. We may have to adapt it according to our situation and resources, but it still exists.

Even during the busiest of times, a reassuring touch on the shoulder, eye contact, a smile — these are all small actions that show someone we care. We may work in a fast-paced, intensive environment, but we can’t forget that very foundation of nursing. We have in our hands people and families who are at their most vulnerable and they need us to care. They need us to be their nurses.