The despair increases daily. Was it always like this? I suspect in the beginning there was despair over how patients were treated, and thus was born the training programs of the Nightingale. Cleanliness, nutrition, exercise, fresh air, compassion. Where are these aspect in nursing today?
I had the opportunity to ask a like question at a research day for nursing recently. A room of fresh young nurses, and a few older ones and we talked. I asked them when we stopped touching patients. I asked if they were taught this in school and about half said yes and half said no. How can that be? Either this is a basic human need or it is not. The evidence is there that it is a basic human need, so…
I told them about nursing in the 1970’s. How the first thing we learned and what every patient received each and every day was a back rub. I heard from the nurses in the room on possible reasons why this is not a part of what we do. I talked to them about gloves and how touch in nursing used to mean skin on skin contact and how nurses use gloves now to protect themselves. One student said she heard a nurse tell a patient that she was not giving a back rub because she is a nurse, not a masseuse. Another nurse, a male this time, said he would never, ever give a patient a back rub. There was talk about societal understanding of touch, and how it is more acceptable for a female still today to provide touch. There was caution and discomfort in the men to consider delivering compassionate touch, despite was we all know about the therapeutic benefits.
It is easier to be comfortable with the technologies of nursing, than the basis of nursing. Touch and compassion is not seen as ‘being scientific’ and nursing carries a great shame of not being seen as scientific. Compassion requires you to be present, to take some time, to be there for that patient at that moment, without a consideration of what came before or what comes after.
I heard of doctors ordering lotion application to get the patient touched, or hugs. We still require a physician to direct our practice? This is not the professionalism nurses sought. This is a façade. We would be better to go back to hospital based apprenticeships.
This drive to ensure a degree as entry to practice is a dismal failure. We churn out nurses who don’t know and create a culture that can’t care.
But we do know APA.