Though it may not always be an epidemic that nurses respond to, they are always on the frontline of health care. Whether it’s infection, prevention and control, military service, mental health or general practice, nurses are consistently working to make a difference to the health of their patients.
Whether it’s infection, prevention and control, military service, mental health or general practice, nurses are consistently working to make a difference to the health of their patients.
“Anybody who has spent anytime in a hospital environment will realise that it’s the nursing team who you spend the majority of time with,” Caryn says. “All health practitioners have important roles in person-centered care, but it is the nurses who are the constant in the patient journey.
“However, it’s usually an unfortunate episode that throws nurses and nursing into the limelight. COVID-19 has certainly provided the general public and other professional bodies with the opportunity to see nurses and midwives for the professionals we are .”
The recent pandemic has also showcased the commitment of the nursing profession as a whole. When there’s not a global crisis, nurses still go to work every day and perform a job that often involves long hours, shift work, high-stress and high-risk situations, often with extreme highs and devastating lows. This dedication and commitment has shone even brighter due to COVID-19.
“What the public has been so responsive to is the dedication and commitment of a global workforce of nurses and midwives who turned up every day because that is the moral and ethical compass within the profession that they’ve chosen,” Caryn says.
“It’s not about being a superhero. It’s about saying, ‘I’m skilled, I’m qualified, I’m a professional, and my time is now’." Professor Caryn West, JCU Academic Head of Nursing
"Nurses go to work knowing they’re at risk, knowing they must wear personal protective gear again even if they have bruises on their face. It might mean walking through a picket line to get to work in some countries, but they do it because the people that they’re caring for need the skillset, expertise and education that they have.”
Looking to the future, Caryn hopes that as the technology and models of health care change and innovate, the ways in which nurses are viewed will also change to better align with the reality of their work.