National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday. The theme this year is Compassion, Expertise, Trust.
The event is intended to not only ensure the appreciation of the skill, compassion, and professionalism consistently exhibited by nurses but also remember the sacrifices made, risks taken, and lives saved every day by each member of this vital profession.
The Ever-increasing Importance of Nurses
American historian Stephen Ambrose is quoted as saying, "It would not be possible to praise nurses too highly." He is exactly right.
“Whether at the bedside, in the classroom, out in the community, or from behind a desk, nurses are the ones advocating on behalf of patients, teaching the next generation of caregivers, and moving the industry forward with innovative practices and technological advancements,” said a Rosemon University article regarding the significance of nurses in healthcare today.
Aside from the daily responsibilities of monitoring patient progress and administering medications, one of the most important roles nurses play in healthcare is as patient advocate. It's no wonder that, in 2019, nurses topped the annual Gallup poll of most trusted professions for the 18th consecutive year, finishing a full 20 percent higher than medical doctors.
Many studies, including an often referenced report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, have shown a correlation between the number of nurses, specifically those with a bachelor's degree in Nursing (BSN), and improved outcomes for both patients and hospitals. The study found that hospitals with more BSN-prepared nurses have lower patient mortality rates, a shorter average patient stay, and reduced healthcare costs.
Nurses also affect organizational costs by advocating against unnecessary treatments and medications. They can be diligent when documenting and reporting symptoms and patient progress, thereby aiding in clinical decisions made by physicians.
Breaking Down Communication Barriers
Given that nurses comprise the largest number of professionals in the healthcare workforce and are consistently rated as the most trusted profession, why does their influence in practice environments continue to be limited?
One reason is that communication between nurses and physicians has long had a reputation of being strained. A recurring theme is the difference in perceptions between the two groups.
Nurses are typically less satisfied with the communication or interaction patterns and express the need for their opinions to be heard. Areas of difference can range from a disagreement in professional opinion to those involving ethical decision-making and the moral dilemmas faced by nurses related to these decisions.
Often, nurses feel disrespected and even ignored.
One study concluded that while eliminating rude and disrespectful behavior can lead to vast improvements, incorporating newer, more positive practices is imperative to developing a conducive work environment and healthier nurse-physician relationships. Suggestions have included nurses accompanying physicians on rounds and communicating on a first name basis to establish a more personal working relationship.
Another study, focusing on the importance of nurse managers, pushes the need to speak up, citing that more open communication between nurses and physicians leads to "better patient care, increased safety, and better staff satisfaction."
Studies also show that because nurses spend more time than physicians with patients, improved communication with nurses lends to healthier communication with patients.
"The time they spend with patients and the empathy and kindness they display is not just by happenstance but is a core aspect of their training," said STAT, a healthcare journalism website.
"If we are to reshape medical care and how it is perceived, the power dynamics between physicians and nurses need to be evened out ... When nurses and physicians work together and learn from each other, everybody wins, especially patients."
Effective communication among healthcare providers is a key driver for the success of the overall system, as communication and teamwork are the backbones of the organization and help to safeguard the safety of patients and staff alike.
Patient experience improves when doctors and nurses work collaboratively, interact and operate in a complementary manner, and show mutual respect based on each discipline's knowledge and expertise.
How SCP Health Depends on Nurses
Our core values of respect and collaboration extend to our physicians' relationships with nurses in all our facilities. We are also committed to hiring nurse practitioners and empowering them to practice at top-of-license.
We are especially thankful that recently, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to fully staff our 24/7 call center with dedicated nurse teams to ensure excellent patient navigation and post-discharge care as part of our Patient Engagement services. During the coronavirus crisis, SCP Health has expanded this call center to also serve as a COVID-19 Information Line—empowering nurses to be a centralized source of wisdom for communities and patients.
Lastly, we are thrilled to have many nurses not only in clinical leadership positions but also in business leadership throughout SCP Health. You are all helping to guide the future of our company and we thank you for your dedicated service to patients.
How to Thank Your Nurses
It is not hard to see, especially during a global pandemic, why nurses are so incredibly important to the healthcare industry. We are beyond grateful to all our staff who were trained in and serve in this worthwhile profession.
Especially during Nurses Week, we hope you will take time to express appreciation to the nurses you work with, know personally, and/or care for patients at your local hospital. To get started, use the two card options below to show your support to nurses by sending (digitally or printed) an appreciative note.