Nurses Attitudes; The Broader View

Nurses are the fulcrum around which the health care delivery system of any nation rotates. They are trained to be independent of other members of the health team where necessary. Nurses are still able to work if all other health workers lay down tools. Despite doing so much for so less, nurses are still by far the least respected of health care professionals.

Nurses are found everywhere championing the health affairs of families and communities, even in places no other professional wants to go. They go out of their job description every time into other related fields to help save lives. Some act as consultants in clinics, health centers, and community-based health planning services(CHPS) compounds. In these places, nurses act as prescribers, midwives, laboratory personnel, and dispensers. They even act as laborers too. They do all these without complaining because of empathy for the sick. These things are not part of the nurse's job description. Nurses are not paid for doing all that.


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Nurses in Ghana
Nurses have pledged to save lives, alleviate pain and promote
health.
Nurses have often been in the line of fire for one thing or the other that did not go right. Many people complain about the poor attitudes of nurses towards clients and their relatives. They describe nurses as being rude and even use unprintable terms on nurses. But is this claim true?

It has often been said, patients are supposed to be patient for nurses to nurse them. But can this be said of the nurse-patient relationship in Ghana?

Nurses are professionals who have pledged to help save lives, reduce pain, and prevent injury. They are not people who delight in seeing anyone go through pain, not even their enemies.


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While it may be true that some nurses lack good communication skills, it is also possible that some underlying factors could be accounting for any negative behavior emanating from nurses. Some people get to the hospital and expect the nurse available to do everything for them. They see the nurse as being the 'jack of all trade". Some people think the nurse can give orders any prescriber to come to work. They, therefore, expect the nurse available to call the prescriber on duty to come attend to them. If this is not done, they get angry and begin to verbally (and sometimes physically) abuse the nurse. And they expect the nurse to keep quiet amidst a flurry of insults. No amount of explanation can calm them down.

Nurses are not superhumans. They also have feelings. To paraphrase Isaac Newton's third law of motion, action and reaction are equal and opposite. Some nurses are bound to exchange words if you attack their personality and professional competence.

Ignorance is to blame for attacks on nurses. Most of these people don't know how nurse work. They are not privy to the limitations on the nursing profession. They also don't know that calling the doctor, and any other health professional for that matter to come do the work they are being paid to do, is not the duty of a nurse. If a nurse decides to call a doctor, it is a form of personal assistance. This is because all health workers, just like the nurses, are supposed to be at post every time.


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Unfortunately, everybody seems to harbor some fear for doctors and other medical personnel. They find it easy attacking and maligning nurses than doctors or prescribers. These same people often feel frustrated if they report to the health facility and do not meet a nurse at post.

Praising nurses for good work is like drinking poison, to some people. Instead of commending nurses for going the extra mile to help save lives, people always focus on the little mistakes to make nurses look bad in the sight of the public. These people are ignorant that without nurses, doctors and other prescribers cannot work effectively.

The truth is, some people detest the truth even if they know it's the truth. They don't feel comfortable when they are asked to do one thing or the other due to hospital protocols. Some see it as a waste of time being taken through laid down protocols. They are impatient patients. No explanation will ever satisfy them. And they often leave the hospital blaming nurses for having wasted their time, even if it was not the nurse's fault. Some people also associate nurses with every health worker in the hospital. They believe every health worker is a nurse. No wonder they expect a nurse to retrieve their folders from the Records department and to dispense drugs to them even in established hospitals. Some even expect nurses to conduct laboratory tests for them even if the laboratory technicians are available.

The main factor contributing to the perception of nurses being rude or careless is mainly due to ignorance. It will take some time for the public to get to grips with the actual duties of a nurse, but with patience and more education, we will get there one day.

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