An Introduction to Nursing
Nursing is a broad profession within the healthcare system, which deals with the caring and support of sick is injured people, promoting recovery and wellbeing. Nursing is often what we envision when we think about hospitals and healthcare in general. The caring nurse with her gentle touch and soft voice is what we all think would best aid in our recovery, and indeed this has been shown to be the case on many occasions. Nurses focus not only on supporting individuals in need, but rather focus their skills on caring for individuals, families and the wider community in general, as well as promoting health and increased quality of life alongside facilitating the recovery of ill or injured persons to recover optimal health and quality of life on an individual level.
There is often a misconception in the public that the nurse is simply the doctors assistant. Although true to extent, nursing has long since evolved into their own independent profession that works in tandem with doctors and other allied health professionals to achieve the best patient outcome through effective cooperation with all members of the multidisciplinary healthcare team. Nursing as a profession has grown to become its own independent and multifaceted team of caring individuals with broad and specialist skills in a diverse range of medical fields. While the doctor focusses on diagnosis and treatment of a patient’s illness, nurses develop a care plan, working collaboratively with physicians, therapists, councilors, patients and the patients family to treat illness and improve the quality of life of their patients, promoting health through patient education. Some nurses have undertaken additional training to gain an expanded scope of practice, such as clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners who are capable of working independently as a primary healthcare provider. They can diagnose health issues, refer patients on to specialist heath practitioners, and prescribe medications and other therapies to treat conditions. In some cases, such as in rural and remote nursing, the nurse practitioner may be the highest medical authority in the area, responsible for the administration of primary health care to an entire district.
Registration as a nurse is often regulated by legislation and is dependent on extensive study of nursing theory alongside sound training in clinical nursing skills. Education of nurses varies from short certificate level courses, through to advanced degrees, masters degrees and doctorate qualifications in postgraduate research. The nurse’s scope of practice reflects their level of training, a certificate trained nurse does not have the authority to practice at the scope of a registered nurse, while a nurse practitioner has the authority to operate independently from the rest of the healthcare team. Nurses who have studied a diploma or higher are generally capable of working independently, under the direction of a registered nurse, while those who have studied below a diploma level are generally restricted to working under the supervision of a Registered Nurse on basic low-level nursing duties, such as patient hygiene and .
Today’s nurses are an integral part of the modern healthcare system, they work in a wide range of clinical contexts as part of the multidisciplinary healthcare team. But the central focus of nursing has always been, and still remains to promote health, prevent illness, restore health and facilitate healing through the delivery of holistic evidence-based practices.
The nurse delivers both autonomous and collaborative care to individuals of all ages, families and communities in all settings, treating not only sick and injured patients, but providing support and assistance to patients who may not meet the traditional definition of sick as well as a the family of the sick and injured. Nursing as a profession includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness and the facilitation of coping with disability or death on both an individual and family centered approach.
Most nurses enter the profession with the goal of providing direct care to patients in the hospital setting, however, nursing has evolved beyond this, nurses are now employed in almost all areas of healthcare and are increasingly working in the community care and home-based healthcare setting. Nurses are also employed at all levels of healthcare, from assistants, through to primary care professionals and executives, researchers and educators.