August 3, 2012
By Grace Huang
Whenever people find out that I am pre-nursing and in fact probably not going to med school (at least to become a doctor) I always get the question, why? Don’t you make less money? If all you need is just a couple of extra years why wouldn’t you? Isn’t it worth the high respects defined by society? If you have the opportunity, why not pursue it? Well, nursing has its advantages too. Nursing as a profession has been a traditionally well respected position for females since the wars of the early days. And through this class, I have reaffirmed my belief that nursing is what I aspire to do with my life.
When I first heard Dr. Terrence J. Ryan mention nursing, it caught my attention. While talking about Sir William Osler, one of the founding professors of John Hopkins Hospital, he mentioned another renowned person, Florence Nightingale. Known as the “Lady with the Lamp” for making rounds late at night, she was famous for creating the first secular professional nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London (and whose name was used in the Nightingale Pledge of ethics for nurses). And the moment Dr. Ryan held up an obviously tattered copy of her book, titled “Notes on Nursing”, my heart felt a slight jerk. Here lay the foundation work of what my career was based on. It was she who pioneered the modern nursing practice currently found worldwide.
I later learned how she was the one who developed patient care. How through her experimentation it was she who determined and wrote about the importance of an angled position of a bed in the way that deemed necessary for absolute patient comfort. I believe it is the little actions just like this that create the reassurance the patient needs that they are receiving the best care possible. This idea of reassurance was even mentioned in our discussions about how the role of a doctor is for reassurance purposes. Although I do agree that general practitioners and specialists should take the time to listen to patients, I believe that real job falls into the hands of the nurses, especially when it comes to hospice care.
This especially applies to those health care centers in low income/developing countries. Take the country Mali, Africa, for example. Dr. Merlin explained how the hospital he worked at only had one doctor on call 24 hours, 7 days a week, for 365 days. So who did the rest of the work fall upon for the other 199 patients held up there? The nurses. Though lacking the training and proper knowledge compared to that of the doctor, the hospital would not be running if not for the work of the nurses. Likewise, the well trained doctors in these countries take their educational knowledge and work in big hospitals while the nurses are the ones who will travel to the rural areas and help the poor (according to the professor’s personal experience in Africa). Furthermore, this course’s focus on the disparity (social, economic, political) between developing and developed countries only adds to my belief that nurses are needed for patient care purposes. Because no matter the conditions laid out around the world, each different type of health care system relies on nurses.
And that sole factor is what inspires me to become a nurse– the fact that nurses consider patient care to be of the upmost importance to a person’s healthy wellbeing. To me, the difference between nurses and doctors comes down to personality. A doctor wants the surgeries, the credit, and medicine to be their life. I on the other hand, aspire to create a welcoming atmosphere for patients in which I would bring my own children to in the case that they too are severely ill. Nurses are the glue to any hospital and deserve so much more credit than they are given. Yet, strangely enough, I like it that way. So for all you skeptics out there, watch out, Nurse Huang is soon to be the key to the best hospital patient care you will ever experience.
Grace is a sophomore studying Health and Humanities from Cupertino, California.