The Soul of Healthcare
Healthcare is a complex and far-reaching system that touches the lives of all people. In Australia, we have an amazing health system that affects everyone, a system we should be proud of and that is delivering amazing innovation in the face of an increasing burden of demand. On International Nurses Day, it’s therefore timely to recognise the part that nurses and midwives play in our health system.
In 2015 there were over 360,000 registered nurses and midwives, and more than 331,000 were employed in nursing and midwifery. We can only speculate what those numbers are now, but we can be certain that it represents a huge percentage of the healthcare workforce.
It is impossible to have healthcare without nurses. Not simply because they make up so much of the workforce, but because the work that they do is irreplaceable. It’s more than likely that it was a nurse who brought you into this world and it will be a nurse who holds your hand as you leave it.
They are there through every major health milestone of our lives. For most of us, there’s not a broken bone, mental health crisis, emergency or surgery, birth or death that hasn’t been witnessed by a nurse or midwife. They are the silent support that we don’t realise we rely on as much as we do.
From intake to diagnosis, to treatment, discharge and follow up, it is almost always going to be a nurse who helps you on your journey through the healthcare system. It’s a nurse who determines when you will be seen, determines which doctor you will see or whether you need a specialist. It will be a nurse who takes your blood, orders your x-rays and receives your results. It’s a nurse who will admit you to a bed, monitor your vitals, and deliver your medication. It’s your nurse who will help you manage your pain, who will help you understand what’s happening with your care, and who will discharge you once you’re well.
But more than that, they will do all of this with empathy and compassion. They will help you maintain your dignity throughout what might be a traumatic experience. They’ll help you eat, help you bathe, help you dress yourself, and help you answer nature’s call. And they do this without judgement, without ever making you feel like less of a person.
It’s that empathy and care that nurses and midwives provide that makes them so crucial to the work that we do at Marie Stopes. Without them, we could not offer the services that we do, and we could not offer the support that is essential to the services we provide. Their ability to move between taking bloods, performing ultrasounds, and assessing medical risk factors to holding your hand, handing you a tissue, and providing an empathetic ear is what makes each nurse at Marie Stopes so incredibly important.
All of the work that we do at Marie Stopes, and in healthcare at large, is made possible by nurses and midwives. Nursing is a career that supports the lives of millions of people every day, during their most vulnerable moments. It is its own rewarding pathway with a multitude of learning opportunities, professional development and endless potential; and all of it is focused on keeping every one of us healthy, happy and alive. Nurses and midwives provide healthcare with its soul.
To all the nurses and midwives everywhere, thank you. Thank you for everything that you do and for everything you are.
Jamal Hakim is the Managing Director of Marie Stopes Australia.
You can find him on Twitter @theJamalHakim