“Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you if that would save you”
These lines are from a poem “The Wound-Dresser” by Walt Whitman who wrote this poem when he was serving as a volunteer nurse during American civil war.
Nursing is considered to be the topmost ethical profession of all. From the earliest type of nursing to the modern type, this profession has always been considered a self-sacrificing but noble job.
When a person gets sick and goes to the hospital for treatment, it is not only the mastery of the doctor who treats the patient but also the virtuosity of the nursing staff who takes complete care of the patient from his/her personal hygiene to medication and food.
We talked to Binu Sharma, Vice president, nursing services, Columbia Asia Hospitals, about her life and experiences as a nurse.
There can be different reasons for one to enter this profession. For Binu, it was her own personality which was more of a people’s person that led her into nursing. When she did her graduation in statistics, there were only numbers and data but no people connect. The craving to do something different and exacting made her take up nursing. According to her, one more thing that made her stick to the profession for the period of almost three and a half decade was that she initially joined nursing training in army setup and was impressed a lot by the nurses and army officers. Binu served the Indian Army in the capacity of a nursing officer for two decades handling clinical and administrative responsibilities. She specialized in Critical Care Nursing while in the Army. Binu states with pride in her voice that no other health care professional can do, what a nurse does for a patient.
Then what is it that makes it one of the most challenging jobs of all times. Answers Binu Sharma, a nursing leader, in a very firm yet cultivated manner, “the compensation structure for nurses is not good especially in India which leads to low motivation and also there is not much of social recognition and it gets tough for female nurses to manage work, home, family at the same time.”
Then why would one go for nursing?
No challenge is big enough to stop you from doing something you want to do and have your heart in, says Binu. There needs to be a self-challenge of being outstanding at everything you do, otherwise, you would not rise. Obviously, there are challenges like managing kids and family with work, but if you love your job then these challenges are no big deal. And women are very strong personalities that are capable of managing home, work and the entire society.
Binu tells us about a major misconception about the nursing profession. It needs to be mentioned specifically that nursing is not only about cleaning up patient’s bed and mattresses and maintaining patient’s personal hygiene, it is a lot more than that. But maintaining personal hygiene of patient is also an important part of patient care. The new generations should not think that this work is not befitting their job profile.
Perks of the profession according to Binu are many. She says, “Nursing as a profession requires a lot of physical stamina, mental endurance, and social sacrifice but at the same time gives you job satisfaction in helping people get better in health. Also managing critical patients is the key to self-achievement. There you get to see different disease profiles, and interact with complexities which help you improve your work.”
In countries like the USA, nursing is rated among the top profile jobs and there was a 7% growth in nursing professionals between 2006 and 2010. Binu tells us with a sparkle in her eyes that there are social standing and recognition for nursing professionals in these advanced countries.
For a nurse to be optimally efficient and effective in patient care management, it is very important that the whole team works in coordination. Binu emphasizes on the team’s importance, “Patient care is not a one person’s job. A patient comes for treatment from a doctor. So, the doctor and the nurse are the central points of management. The other services like pharmacy, laundry and linen and security has to hover around the patient, doctor, and nurse. The best way to manage this relationship is that the doctor and nurses should be 100 percent supported by the other services in the hospital.” It is of utmost significance that a nurse has good communication skills and interpersonal relationship and at the same time have trust in people from other services, added Binu.
Binu Sharma shared with us some events of her nursing life which made her feel even more contented for choosing to nurse as a career. One case she mentions specifically when she was a young ICU nurse. During her shift in the ICU, she came across a 16-17 years old boy with some general orthopedic surgery, in a gasping state. The boy got a cardiac arrest. There were no other team members available in the ICU at that moment. Binu had not given CPR before that situation, but she had the confidence to do it and save a life. But that day, she managed to start CPR and resuscitate the patient. Parents of that boy thanked Binu and said that she was a god for them to save their only child’s life. This story is enough to realize how one timely action by a nurse can save a life and change the lives of the whole family.
Now in the role of an administrator, Binu’s motivation comes from the young nurses, whom she can train and show right direction and keep motivated. Binu says that she always meet the nurses during the training classes and talk to them about why they chose to nurse whether they are happy and wish to continue and also take advice from them. She also makes sure to talk to those who leave the job, about why they are leaving, what is wrong, what she can do to keep them in the profession.
Binu Sharma has got many awards and recognitions in her efficacious career of more than 30 years. She has been awarded the Commendation Medal Eastern command for Exemplary nursing services and has also been the recipient of the Florence Nightingale award in 2007. She talks very proudly about all her achievements but says that her biggest achievement would be if the young nurses start seeing this profession as an attractive career to join like in advance countries. In countries like the USA, nursing is rated among the top profile jobs and there was a 7% growth in nursing professionals between 2006 and 2010. Binu tells us with a sparkle in her eyes that there are social standing and recognition for nursing professionals in these advanced countries. Binu recommends that for India to do better in health care, it is very crucial that there are an ample number of fully qualified and trained nurses in the country and they have a social standing and recognition and are seen as vital contributors of patient care management.