Authors: Wolter Paans, Professor of Nursing Diagnostics; Marie Louise Luttik, Professor of Family Care; Wim Dieperink, Professor Critical Care; Han de Ruiter, Professor Value-Driven Healthcare. Authors are trained as nurses and work within the Nursing Diagnostics research group at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences.
Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands
This blog or is written by Wolter Paans, Professor of Nursing Diagnostics; Marie Louise Luttik, Professor of Family Care; Wim Dieperink, Professor Critical Care; Han de Ruiter, Professor Value-Driven Healthcare. Authors are trained as nurses and work within the Nursing Diagnostics research group at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, after the peak of the corona crises in June 2020 in the Netherlands. Now the Netherlands is facing a second wave and therefore the blog becomes again relevant. A part of this opinion piece consist elements of the Dutch situation about nursing, the position of nurses and nursing leadership.
The backwash of the corona crisis: the expertise of the nurse
“There are enough people to describe the noble sides, the heroic side, the exalted side of the war. I have to describe what I saw, the other side.” This is a quote from the work of Ellen La Motte titled ‘The Backwash of War’, which she, as an American nurse, wrote during her stay in Ieper in Belgium during the First World War. The reason we mention this quote is the way in which the nursing profession is presented in the media during the corona crisis. There is a remarkable similarity between the word usage between that war battle of more than a century ago and the current quarantine time. “Heroes in healthcare: it is a battle that we are going to win!” “This battle gives nurses more status,” “doctors are now also getting more appreciation for nursing.” In general, it can be said that the emancipating effect soon ebbed away again and that strong forewomen and foremen in this profession, after that First World War, only occasionally took the opportunity to highlight their professional knowledge. But what do they actually have to say?”
There is hardly any profession that has so many platitudes as that of the nurse. They are female, paid little, and overtired. Nurses often leave their bed-side job in a burnout situation faster than they can be replaced, and they are mangled in a disruptive medical system in which they are barely heard. Generalities can also be reported about their attitude: they are firm and comforting and there is no nursing text that does not contain the word ’empathy’. Platitudes are there for a reason; there is at least some truth in it. We have now come to the point where we should go beyond the banality of this uniform image.
Modern Times in Nursing
In this time of corona, we see significantly fewer nurses at the public discussion table than medical specialists and virologists. Citizens are of course primarily interested in a new medicine or vaccine, and it is evident that this is not a nurse’s specific field. But why should we consider the nurse a bit more as a discussion partner at the public table? In addition to the diagnosis and treatment of the disease itself, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, the consequences of the disease and the treatment in particular will require a lot of attention. Especially about these consequences, nurses have a lot of interesting knowledge. It is now a broad field that is increasingly scientifically substantiated. If a medicine is not healing enough, it is often nurses who act. This concerns, for example, care provision for long-term pain, feelings of anxiety and depression, ongoing shortness of breath, malnutrition, loneliness and over-asking informal carers. Nurses know which essential health issues need to be addressed in order to be able to experience sufficient quality of life and to work again. It is therefore absolutely worth knowing what these nurses do, in addition to, for example, the medical specialist, the general practitioner and the social worker, and on the basis of which they are nurses.
At the table!
This is an appeal to the expert nurses themselves to discuss their subject matter in the public opinion in more detail; show substantive leadership. And it is an appeal to the media to offer them that spot. Nurses have come to the forefront today with personal blogs, daily facts and gripping stories. It would be nice if they also take and receive the opportunity to share their own knowledge with citizens; a scientific basis that goes beyond personal emotion, the heaviness of the profession or the way in which a shortage of mouth masks is dealt with. Break the cliché! At the table with nurses, because everyone wants to know what they have to say about their profession: much, very much about “the other side”.
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