I provide assessments, education, emotional support and ensure that my patients get top quality care. I spend a lot of time working with the doctors, social workers and nurses to ensure that first quality care is provided in a timely manner, and that all my patients are treated with dignity and respect. This city is a very ethnically and culturally diverse area. True, it is the home of much power, but my patients are mostly voiceless, the poor, the poorer and the poorest. Many come from countries were they were victims of extreme violence that started with the most politically powerful and those in authority. Just getting them to trust the system not to cause them more pain is a huge job my colleagues and I all deal with nearly every day. The mental, emotional and social needs are on the same level with my patients’ medical needs.
Every patient in a hospital has a bed and food; my patients sometimes live in cardboard boxes and scrounge in trash cans for food and clothing. In the hospital, the nurse brings the medication; my patients may have to travel two to three hours each way to get their medications.
I do not know how much time is given to patient education in the hospital now, I do know that I have spent a lot of time translating written materials from doctorese and nursybabble into fourth-grade level English, the recommended grade level per the District health department. I want my patients to be able to go to the doctor and understand what they are hearing and feel empowered to ask questions. I try to meet with my patients at least once. And I am only one of the many case and program managers who do exactly the same thing.
My hope is that somebody lets the foundation know that if they truly want a study that reflects nursing in this country, they must recognize that all of us must be included. The nursing shortage affects every type of nursing. That means school health nurses, office nurses, public health nurses, occupational nurses, just to name a few. Until we are all a part of these supposedly representative studies, the results are skewed and biased.
Judith Levine, R.N., B.S.N.
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