One of the most important roles in the healthcare system are nurses. The field helps promote and protect health, but also helps prevent illnesses and injuries. Not only do nurses care for patients in their most vulnerable state, they also educate and empower patients. Most significantly, nurse advocate in the care of patients and families. Nurses are the voices for patients, families and communities. Nurse help connect the gap between patients and doctors to make sure patients are getting the support that they need. Although it is essential for nurses to advocate for their patients, nurses that go the extra mile also advocate for the field.
Advocacy in the nursing profession is something that not everyone hears of often. Before I got into nursing, I always knew nurses were caring and patient. I never really thought how speaking out for the patient was such an essential role. A while ago at a doctor's appointment, I got prescribed an inhaler for my allergies. As a patient, the whole process was overwhelming because I did not know what kind of medication was going into the inhaler and how to even use the inhaler. My doctor was using a lot of medical terms and went through all the details very briefly. I felt like he did not feel the need to explain everything out to me. When I went to the pharmacy to pick up the medication, I realized that the doctor wrote out a prescription for a nebulizer medication. After many calls, it was eventually a nurse that helped me with everything. My nurse helped me get the right medication and taught me how to properly use the inhaler. I understand that doctors might be busy with priority patients, but without nurses like the one that helped me, patients would have more of a hard time getting the attention and care they need. It is definitely easier to have someone with you every step of the way to educate you about your condition or illness. Unfortunately with hundreds of patients in and out of the hospital everyday, it is difficult to receive that one on one attention. What is wonderful about the internet nowadays is that there is accessible and reliable medical information written by healthcare professionals. Not only does this kind of information help out patients, but other help out the people who work in the healthcare field.
The majority of the types of writing I have come across in the nursing field are peer-reviewed articles or evidence based practice articles. Nurses rely heavily on these types of writing because they want to make sure their practice is up-to-date. They want to be able to provide the safest and most effective care for their patients because healthcare is always changing and improving. These types of articles are targeted towards healthcare professionals and are not meant for the general public. Thankfully, nurses have also written other forms of literature like informative articles, websites, and books that are easier for general public to understand.
What also the health community and the public are TEDMED talks, which helps people be easily involved and feel related to just by watching videos. TEDMED features speakers both inside and outside the medical disciplines to share stories that educate and inspire the health community and the public. These videos are easily accessible through the website and YouTube. Well known researchers, scientists and doctors have been featured for talks, but when I went to look TEDMED talk done by nurses, only a few results showed up. The first nurse that is featured on TEDMED is Sally Okun. Sally Okun is the Vice President for Advocacy, Policy and Patient Safety at PatientsLikeMe. In her TEDMED talk "Does anyone in healthcare want to be understood?", Okun starts off by talking about the word "lexicon. She gives us two definitions: "the collection of words - the internalized dictionary - that every speaker of the language has" and "a stock of terms used in a particular profession, subject, or style" (Okun, 2013). Language is so crucial in a community, because we all need it to be able to understand one another. The method of human communication is especially important in the healthcare field. Okun talks about how the health field lacks standardized vocabulary for clinical terms and how there is no standardized vocabulary used by patients to describe their health conditions. In a way, healthcare professionals are "silencing" the words and stories of patients because they are just so focused and dependent on acronyms and scientific terms. In Okun's project, she tries to humanize the language of health by matching the vocabulary used by patients to clinical terms. She also talks about how the healthcare professionals are not really listening to patients for the actual diagnosis, which therefore means that patients' stories are not captured as much as it should be. Okun's talk seeks to inform and evaluate. Her talk's purpose is to inform the health and medical community that they really need to listen to patients, but also evaluate and come up with a better system on how to translate what patients are saying into clinical terms.
Okun's audience is primarily directed towards the health and medical community, but she is advocating for patients. The talk is presented by Okun on stage, and the live audience is also shown in the video. Behind Okun, there is a huge screen for pictures and visual aids. As an example, Okun used the clinical concept "gait disturbance" to illustrate how it connects to what patients are describing. When patients talk about gait disturbance, about 36 different expressions were used to describe it. Some patients also talked about symptoms or side effects to describe the condition. As gait disturbance gets dug deeper, the chart visual shows how complex it could get with multiple possible conditions. From afar, it looks like a jumbled word jungle. This really illustrates to the audience that it is not that easy to pinpoint what one means when describing a health condition.
Using first person dominant, Okun's tone is on the serious side, but her diction is straight forward. As the first nurse ever on a TEDMED, this is Okun's one and only chance to get her message across. Being the proactive nurse she is, Okun speaks out with strength to help expand the role and value of nurses. This is a huge moment for nurses around the world, because this is a rare chance for a driven nurse to speak out not only for the field, but for the patients. Although a bit serious, the enthusiasm from the speaker really comes across from the urge and passion. The most powerful aspect of Okun's talk is that she is speaking on the side of the patient. This really helps everyone who has been in the shoes of a patient feel connected to her.
There is often miscommunication between physicians and patients that causes a disconnect between the two because the words used to communicate are different. Okun wants to get the message across that healthcare professionals should listen to their patients more to come up with the best solution. Healthcare professionals should also really start thinking of ways to help patients communicate with them better. This is especially important that it is coming from a nurse. Okun's talk really shows how nurses are the voices for patients, because patients do not really get to have a say in their medical treatment. In the health and medical community, it is hard for nurses to be respected or known as innovative thinkers. It seems like they are only known as doctors' helpers, although in reality nurses work at the front line of healthcare. Through Okun's talk, more people are able to see what it is like from the nurses' side. Hopefully, this will inspire the whole healthcare field to change.
For me, there is no greater feeling than the satisfaction I experienced from serving and helping others. I was interested in the healthcare field for many years. However, the careers opportunities within this field are vast, and I was not completely sure of which occupation I wanted to pursue. No profession is easy, but I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for all nurses who are currently practicing; men and women who take care of people in their most vulnerable condition. Nurses should be compassionate, patient, and sacrificing. For my future career, I want to be able to serve my community in a greater way. After much consideration, I knew nursing was the right profession to pursue. Especially after my experience with my inhaler and being with the nurse who helped me with my situation, I knew that I wanted to be an advocate for my patients.
I am glad that TEDMED was able to feature such a proactive nurse to help expand the role and value of nurses, but I am also disappointed that there is not a lot of TEDMED talks that feature nurses. The point of healthcare is helping sick patients get better, so they could get back on their feet to continue their daily lives. Nurses are the ones that have the chance of getting to know a patient well. Therefore, the nurse and patient relationship should not be overlooked by other healthcare professionals. After all, it is the patient that is supposed to be in the center of attention. The healthcare field should really think about giving nurses a larger role and more credit to what they do. Okun ends her talk by answering the question she has prompt in the beginning, "does anyone in healthcare want to be understood?" She answers that patients are the ones in healthcare that want to be understood.
Okun, S. (2013, July 17). TEDMED. Does Anyone in Healthcare Want to be Understood? [Video file]. Retrieved from: http://www.tedmed.com/talks/show?id=47020