Published on May 03, 2022

What Nursing Means to Me

nurses cap

My nursing career started in 1993 as a bedside nurse, and I now serve as Oncology Clinical Nurse Educator.

No one works harder...

While there are many types of nursing, it is my strong opinion that no one can identify with the definition of a nurse more than a bedside nurse and nursing assistant. In fact, I can think of no one who works harder than these! My husband owns a sawmill and log mill, and at times I have helped him catch and stack lumber as it comes off the mill. That is hard physical labor, but even that doesn’t surpass how hard bedside nurses and nursing assistants work!

Our frontline

If you study any major wars, you find that the frontline is the position closest to the area of conflict. The bedside nurse always and irrefutably holds this position. Hospitals depend on bedside nurses to succeed and flourish—no patient can be admitted without them. Medical floors have acutely ill patients, and these nurses have the skills to handle any diagnosis.

Consider this about a bedside nurse...

He or she:

  • Can have a sick or injured patient who also has a mental health diagnosis, is mentally or physically challenged, or has all kinds of health issues going on at one time.
  • Is at risk of injury from combative patients, not to mention the lifting and tugging involved in patient care.
  • Must be aware of potential societal problems such as sex trafficking, addiction, narcotic diversion, exposure to bullying and how to respond legally and responsibly.
  • Must know how to keep patients safe when tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, bomb threats and active shooters are present, as well as biohazardous spills and possible exposure.
  • Is often exposed to contagious illnesses before they are diagnosed.
  • Does his/her best to prevent patients from falling, which could result in a brain bleed or broken hip and be life-altering for the patient.
  • Assesses a patient at least every two hours and records their symptoms, condition, vital signs. Nurses administer high-risk medications and blood products; operate all different kinds of medical equipment; perform diagnostic tests and invasive procedures; educate patients about medications, diagnoses and discharge plans; and develop an appropriate care plan for that patient—all within a shift.
  • Admits patients and works with doctors on their current condition and symptoms.
  • Calls ALERTS for extra help to assess for possible sepsis, stroke and chest pain to try to pre-empt an emergency situation and the patient’s condition becoming critical.
  • Possesses critical thinking skills to quickly assess, analyze and report changes in a patient’s condition.
  • Stays up-to-date on requirements for hospital accreditation and often represents the hospital during accreditation surveys.
  • Is evaluated and critiqued almost daily.
  • Must exhibit behavioral standards expected from professionals and perform at 100%, even when staffing is short.
  • Copes with difficult, high stress and emergency situations.
  • Must have organizational skills to work with four to nine patients, dependent upon staffing. Charts must be kept up to date regardless.
  • Successfully conveys diagnoses and treatments to help patients through difficult illnesses.
  • Must be a good listener to understand patients’ needs and prioritize accordingly.
  • Collaborates with the entire health care team that delivers care to a patient.
  • Performs the basics of care for patients: changing diapers, mopping up vomit, changing dressings, providing wound care, removing impactions, bathing, dressing, helping the patient move from bed to chair, brushing teeth and turning a patient every two hours to prevent skin breakdown.

I have the utmost respect for bedside nurses and nursing assistants for the often thankless job that they do day in and day out. They are the frontline of hospital care, and we cannot survive without them. May God bless each and every one of them!

May God bless bedside nurses and nursing assistants for the often thankless job that they do day in and day out.