"Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion” -
Nurses Day which fell on May 12 passed us quietly without much publicity. It may be good for us to understand how our nurses are coping in as environment that is increasingly becoming more hostile to them.
Today the medical services have been so commercialized that its ideals are being lost. The mushrooming of large number of public and private hospitals in the country has tremendously increased the demand for nurses. As a result a large number of nursing schools have sprung up all over the country. Unfortunately many of these schools lack qualified, experienced and dedicated teachers. As a result these schools churn out large number nurses who are of questionable standards. With minimal exposure to clinical work, they are tasked to carry out various nursing duties.
To make matters worst these junior nurses are left alone without proper supervision as many of the senior ones have left for greener pastures. In fact many of them don’t even know how to handle patients who can be very demanding these days. Managing patients is an art that can only be mastered by years of experience not by just obtaining the necessary certificates. This experience I am afraid is sadly missing in our wards today.
If that is not bad enough, their superiors have become more of administrators rather than exemplary senior nurses themselves. They are ‘forced’ to be part of policies that generally favor the management than the nurses. This results in some form of ‘exploitation’ of the nurses to get the maximum work done with minimum incentives and rewards.
The unfavorable environment under which our nurses work has resulted in a drastic loss in zeal among them. To many, nursing has become a means of income not a vocation anymore. The lack of appreciation by their superiors, administrators and even the patients themselves has seriously eroded the morale of our nurses, both in public and private hospitals.
Privatization has dealt a major blow to the quality of patient care. Such care, when available, has become beyond the means of the vast majority of Malaysians who are toiling to make ends meet. Furthermore it has made the nurses mere tools for churning out profits for the huge co-operations that own hospitals. To make matters worse, now we are planning to embark on large a scale medical industry fashionably termed ‘medical tourism’.
Despite this commercialization of medical care in general we are fortunate to still have nurses who are dedicated, caring and compassionate but regrettably these qualities are the least sought for in our nurses these days as they are not readily saleable commodities.
The new Health Minister, who appears to be very energetic and eager, has some serious problems to address – to arrest the declining standards of nursing, putting the brakes on the massive and indiscriminate commercialization of patient care that is threatening the ethics of the medical profession, ensuring quality nursing schools and above all bringing back the glory and respect the nursing profession once commanded.
Meanwhile let us look out for those true Nightingales who are dedicated to serve their patients in silence despite all the odds arrayed against them. Let us show our appreciation and gratitude in cash, kind or the least in some kind words of appreciation and gratitude. We never know when we will need their services?