May12th is the birthday of Florence Nightingale who gave dignity to the nursing profession. This is commemorated as the international nurse’s day to mark the contributions nurses make to the society.
In 1953 Dorothy Sutherland an official in the department of health, education and welfare proposed this, and the then president Dwight Eisenhower did not approve it. but the international council of nurses has been celebrating this day since 1965. Each year the ICN, prepares and distributes the international nurses day kit with educational and public information materials for the use of nurses everywhere.
One thing I realized is that lot of people are not really clear of what a nurse’s duty is all about. A nurse is very much like a doctor, their roles and responsibilities are based on their experience and specialities. The roles include
- Nurse unit manger – known sister’s in the Indian hospitals, they run the ward.
- Associate nurse unit managers – help the nurse unit manager to run the ward and act as the manager when the nurse unit manager is out of the ward.
- Nurse practioners are highly skilled nurses with advanced level of training.
- Specialist nurses are nurses trained in specific specialities like emergency, labour, etc.
- Registered nurses, provide high level day- to- day care and perform some minor procedures.
- Enrolled nurses provide basic medical care under the supervision of more senior nurses.
Then there is the concept of community health nursing, these are nurses who bring healthcare to the impoverished people in the rural and urban settlements. They address the local migrant community and impoverished community with immediate medical assistance and then guide them to the appropriate medical center. These nurses deal with patient and may have to extend the care to their families and community.
The community health nurses are also known as public health nurses, they are classified as Para-medical faculty in india, and work in health care settings like homes, ambulatory care centres, schools, and residential institutions. They are not only care provides but also fulfil the roles of
- Health educator
- Health advocate
- Preventive care leaders
It is the community nurse who focus on the vulnerable members of the society such as the elderly, homeless, shut-ins they counsel the mothers to be, and educate the community on healthy eating, and basic health care.
This service sector is largely untapped in India, and many a times untrained informal players step in.
The theme for 2017 International Nurses Day focuses on this aspect of nursing, “A Voice To Lead Achieving Sustainable Development Goals” it can be practised only by community nurses a branch of nursing that is hardly visible in India, yes of course part of their duties are dispensed by the anganwadi workers, but it is really insufficient.
It is necessary for us as a community to ensure that we have these community nurses who can step in as caregivers, educators and health advocates.