OPINION: Yours Super Nurses

Nursing as an integral part of the health care system that encompasses the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and care of physically ill, mentally ill, and disabled people of all ages, in all health care and other community settings. Nurses play a critical role in health promotion, disease prevention and delivering primary and community care. They provide care in emergency settings, develop patients’ care plans and work collaboratively with other teams that focus on treating illness to improve quality of life.

Being a professional nurse means the patients in your care must be able to trust you, practice according to available up to date nursing evidence and treat patients and colleagues with dignity, kindness, respect and compassion. Nursing requires one to understand the ethical code of conduct and are accountable. Educational exposure and various experiences have shaped us into the professional nurses we are now. As nurses, we believe that a huge part of being a nurse encompasses soft skills such as being compassionate, empathetic, flexible, a team player and kind with high emotional intelligence, problem solving and communication skills. To us, nursing will never be “just a job”, however, it is a profession we are passionate about each and every other day that elapses plus it’s a learning experience. 

We believe there is more to being a nurse than just “taking care of sick people.” Advocacy, promotion of a safe environment, research, participation in shaping health policy and in- patient and health systems management and education are also key nursing roles. As the adage goes, “nurses are people whose need to understand supersedes the need to be understood.”  We believe nothing holds this world like the nursing profession does. Remember, nurses make up nearly half of the world’s healthcare workforce and deliver almost 80% of the hands-on care. They are often the first healthcare staff to interact with patients and sometimes the only health professional a patient will ever see. In Uganda, this is typically seen and experienced at health care centres II and III that are manned by almost only nurses and midwives.

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People who save lives are usually regarded as heroes, however, only nurses save lives every day. We believe it takes determination, self-will, sacrifice and passion to achieve this status. Saving lives comes first because money can be quantified and made, but life cannot. A life once lost cannot be brought back. The enthusiasm of nurses varies. Whereas some seem troubled, nursing eventually becomes a point of excitement when for example a patient who was in so much pain under their care finally says, because of u my nurse, my pain has gone away and I can now smile. What a good feeling to us!

As professional nurses, we have worked in a wide range of departments including emergency, outpatients, pediatrics, medical-surgical inpatients, obstetrics & gynaecology and intensive care unit among many others. All these different settings create a different atmosphere that requires one to cope up emotionally and intellectually due to the new diseases, trend of existing diseases and the treatment modalities that come up every new day that passes. It feels quite different being a nurse and all may seem like doom and gloom most of the time, but amidst all that, a random call from a patient or client saying they feel better because of your care makes you feels like the best day-dream that you never wanted to wake up to.

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As nurses, some days are good while others are terrible. The worst time in the life of a nurse is when they lose a patient under their care who seemed to get better. For example, a 31-year-old male, newly married wakes up in the morning, heads to work as routine, only to get involved in a terrible road traffic accident, and is brought in to the emergency area at the hospital with massive injuries and severe bleeding and dies after one hour of hospital stay. This is not only a sad incidence to his family, but it also saddening to us the nurses. Our joy comes when we save lives.

Other days in the intensive care unit seem like a rainbow after a storm. For example, when a patient gets into a cardiac arrest and the entire team gets on board, starts to resuscitate the patient for over 40 minutes, and then the team lead says stop ‘I feel a pulse’. You all then see the patients’ chest moving up and down.  And you all now look at each other in unison with sweaty smiling faces. Ask us about the nursing profession and all we can say is that, it’s a roller coaster.

The authors are; Katusabe Shamim; BSc trained Nurse working with Mulago National Referral Hospital and Lilian Nuwabaine Luyima; BSc Nurse & MSN-Midwife & Women’s’ Health Specialist working with Aga Khan University as the Continuous Professional Development Coordinator

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