I think if we could make software that was easier to use it would help: less use of point-and-click and dropdown menus. Those things are just complete time-wasters and destroyers of concentration. If documentation could really flow, that would make a huge difference. They say we can chart in the room with the patient, but my experience is that people don't like to talk to you when you're looking at a computer screen, and I don't like to talk to people when I'm looking at a computer screen.
Sometimes we hear other nurses discouraging people from entering the profession. What can we do amongst our own to help nurses feel better about their role?
What I tell people is, "It's a great job—it just doesn't get the respect that it deserves." I think we really need a nurse self-esteem movement where we're proud of ourselves and proud of what we do. Physicians, they internalize this message. There's hazing in their education, and they're tired, and there's all this hard stuff, but I think they're reminded a lot that they're going to be doctors and they're going to be important, and nurses are not good at that. I really think that we should be. You can be hard on people and get them to learn and make them feel like they are fabulous at the same time. I really would like all nurses to have that feeling, more like, "This is a great job. People don't always see that, but that doesn't change the truth."
Your book does a great job of going through a nurse’s day, but if you had to give a quick answer to the question, “What do nurses do,” what would it be?
I would say the nurse is in that middle place between the doctor and the patient. I would also say that the nurse is the human face of the hospital.
Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN, is a freelance writer who specializes in patient education and health and wellness topics.