21st Century Nursing: The Voice To Lead
Sameh Abu-Arqoub, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), American Hospital Dubai
Nurses have been an enabling force for change in healthcare along many dimensions
Published: Thu 12 May 2022, 9:00 AM
The word ‘Nurse’ comes from a simple Latin word, Nutrix, which means to nourish, and it’s the source code for a calling that has been indispensable for humanity. Its inception of caring for the sick and the infirm was founded on benevolence. Over the centuries, nursing has evolved into a highly complex, vital, and dynamic profession defined by active principles of caring, determinism and adherence to professional standards.
Modern nursing is an academic speciality, a science-nurtured skill that has advanced nurses’ roles, responsibilities, and contributions far beyond its past purpose, while tethered to its original purpose of serving and healing the sick.
It is a welcome progress for our times because, despite our dizzying achievements, we continue to carry a significant health burden. Chronic lifestyle diseases, variations of genetic afflictions, new viral mutations, cancers, and environmentally-induced illnesses are rampant among populations.
Where there are patients and diseases, there must be doctors and nurses to tend to them. The 21st-century requirements for these professionals have evolved to keep pace with the rise in disease complexities, increasing pressures on health infrastructure, and technology-led medical breakthroughs.
The pandemic was the tipping point for creating a new awareness and appreciation for the countless sacrifices of nurses; awakening the world to their incredible efforts. As nurses take on multiple roles, their selflessness, a historical reality, assumes even more importance. Technology, remote medicine, homecare and tele-health are ushering in a new learning curve for all healthcare professionals, including nurses.
The hospital ecosystem, the nucleus of healthcare, is no longer a rigid concept. Instead, it is an adaptive system with its function and form in constant revision. The role of nurses is expanding to fill the demands created by these changes.
Today, nurses play a vital role in patient education, advocacy, quality enhancement, organisational strategies, system efficiencies, cost optimisation, and policy upgrades. Nurses are complex health therapists, information interpreters, patient advocates, consumer guides, lifestyle counsellors, quality controllers and policy shapers. The field of nursing is in a state of rapid specialisation in domains such as forensics, radiology, bioinformatics, geriatrics, and critical care to mention a few.
As frontline providers, nurses are at the forefront of innovation that shapes current patient expectations and raises the bar for future requirements.
The role of clinicians as gatherers of patient data is as timeless in its relevance as nurses’ contributions. As first-base responders, a nurse’s insights and evidence-based observations are critical inputs for an overview and review of a healthcare model, carrying forward the legacy established by the watershed achievements of Florence Nightingale.
These realities have led to a dramatic shift in the way governments, policymakers, hospitals, and healthcare institutions utilise nursing resources today.
In this new era, nurses are a voice to lead as they stay apace with progress. It can only bode well for healthcare, as the healing touch is granted the power to make a difference.