Being human is scary business. Especially when your chosen profession is a nurse.
Believe it or not — we screw up. And when a nurse succumbs to her humanity and makes a mistake — the results can be catastrophic.
Everyone. EVERY ONE. Every single solitary person in our food chain expects perfection from us. From our management to The Docs to our patients. We are not allowed to slip up. And we are hardest on ourselves because our mandate is to care for our patients. We don’t want to disappoint anyone and we sure as hell aren’t there to cause further harm.
But we are human. Over worked humans. Stressed out humans. Exhausted humans. In a system which cares more about their bottom line than it does about its patients or its nurses. That is simply the truth of it all.
We are not perfect. We are human. Nurses’ collective humanity is what brings them to this profession in the first place. But the pressures we work under are obscene.
Do I need to say it again? Nurses are human.
We work in a system that is constantly, and I do mean constantly, attempting to fix itself so human errors are eradicated or certainly minimized. It evolves with every one of our missed steps. But make no mistake — you can not take the humanity out of healthcare. There will always be missed steps.
Nurses do better — as all humans do — with adequate time and rest to do their job. Nurses do better when not struggling to meet unreasonable goals and expectations. Nurses do better with breaks for a drink of water, to go the bathroom, and eat their lunches. Nurses do better when not pushed to accomplish superhuman feats like doing more and more with less and less.
Research from the National Institute Of Health has shown long shifts negatively impact nurses’ ability to give quality care. But no one in upper management is offering shorter shifts because running 10 and 12 hours shifts of nurses is more cost effective in the short term.
Until a nurse goes and becomes human. Then the domino effect of her inability to perform at the ridiculously high bar set by society and hospital administrators might very well negatively impact a patient. The ramifactions to the individual nurse are immense. On a personal level — she carries the guilt her entire life, on a professional level — she could lose her career.
Nurses come to healthcare to take care of patients. It’s long past time for healthcare to start to take care of their nurses.
Humans should be allowed their humanity. All humans. Everywhere. No matter who you are. No matter what you do. Our humanity is a blessing, not a flaw.