‘Pardon, is still the nurse of a second woe’…

Shakespeare’s, ‘Measure for Measure.’

In this context; granting forgiveness or ‘pardon’ can sometimes nurture or lead to further problems.

‘Nurse’ used as a verb, ‘to nurse’, or a noun ‘the nurse’ or at a stretch an adjective?

‘Nurse’ not used in its literal sense referring to a clinical professional but figuratively; something that fosters or encourages the development of something else.

English ain’t easy, is it!

How about;

‘The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge.’

That was Virginia Avenel Henderson, an American nurse, researcher, theorist, writer… and famous for this definition of nursing.

And then, there is this;

‘Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work.’

That was Florence… who, by the way, also said;

‘Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion.’

Waiting-list-managers please note.

What about;

‘Nursing is a profession of profound complexity. It requires not only clinical expertise but also emotional intelligence, critical thinking and adaptability. Nurses are at the forefront of healthcare, navigating through the complexities of illness, treatment, and human experience to provide compassionate care to those in need.’

Who said that? Me…

Just what is a nurse? There are 600,000 of them in the UK and they seem to defy definition.

Is nursing an hard-nosed profession where only competence counts. Is compassion obligatory or just a bit of a help?

The plumber who turns up at yer granny’s house, a bathroom leak, coming through the kitchen ceiling… he fixes the burst, mops up the kitchen floor, makes a cuppa and calls her daughter.

A plumber using hard-nosed, technical skills, compassion and nursing yer granny out of her crisis.

Are nurses the people we stood on the doorstep for and banged our saucepans?

Some nurses hated that. On the picket-lines you could hear the chant;

‘Nurses don’t want thanks;
We want more money
In our banks.’

Ask a member of the public to define a nurse and they will almost always lapse into anecdote… when their kids were ill, a relative dying, reassuring a cancer patient, scared to death… or just as likely, ‘they were rushed off their feet’.

The nurse who somehow manages to escape from the routine of you being the 20th person they seen today and the hundredth this week…

… and understands, for you, she will be the first nurse you’ve seen today and maybe, ever…

… remembering, of course 11% of nurses are blokes.

Pat Cullen the chief executive of the RCN said;

‘As nursing evolves, so must its practitioners. Continuous learning and qualification are essential for nurses to adapt, thrive, and provide the highest standard of care…’

… and that is the issue.

Nursing is everything from sitting, having a chat, to carrying out complex diagnosis and treatments.

The Swiss Army knife profession.

Do we need definitions? Don’t we just know?

The RCN don’t think that ‘knowing’ is enough.

They think we and particularly employers, educators and the profession itself needs a greater clarity as nurses now work at the most advanced and complex end of the spectrum of care.

Enhanced, advanced and consultant level nursing is defined and differentiated in a series of new documents just published.

They are part of RCN work to move thinking beyond the point of registration and establish a professional framework.

It’s hard to imagine they haven’t had this before.

Equally difficult to accept; anyone can call themselves a nurse… it is not a protected title, like solicitor. On the other hand, anyone can call themselves a judge!

Most of us can only define a ‘nurse’ in the context of our experience and that creates a tension for a profession that wants to be defined by professional experience, education and training…

… we, the public, are blind to the difference between supervised and autonomous practice. A huge topic, for another day.

Back to Florence;

‘Statistics are the triumph of the quantitative method, and the quantitative method is the victory over sterility and death.’

Today, I’d guess she’d probably say the same about technology and education.

News and Comment from Roy Lilley
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