Written by Emma Collins
It is essential for nurses in New Zealand society today to have an awareness of what happens within a healthcare setting, as well as outside that healthcare setting. There are a significant amount of factors which impact on the day to day practice of nurses everywhere, and it is up to today’s nurse to challenge what has been done in the past, or current practice, and think about how things can potentially be done differently, to reflect the changing needs of society. This level of critical thinking and evidence based nursing (Tsai, Cheng, Chang & Liou, 2014) is evident in the articles presented in this Volume of the School of Nursing Online Journal. It is also very consumer focused, and recognises the socio-political elements that impact on nursing care, wherever it is practiced. Wilson (2016) discusses a clear link between obese patients and length of hospital stay. The social and political implications of this are substantial, and need to be addressed at the core of the problem. Enemy (2016) also highlights another significant socio-political issue in the consequences of staff being overworked. This is an on-going issue particularly for staff working in a busy clinical environment. As well as obesity, smoking is another significant and pertinent socio-political topic that needs to be addressed in all areas of nursing. Pauling (2016) discusses in her discussion on smoking in regards to fractures about advising patients about the consequences of smoking in relation to their orthopaedic injury, and in particular how this fits with the goal from the Ministry of Health for a smokefree New Zealand by 2025 (MoH, 2015).
Care that is patient focused can sometimes feel lost in the socio-political context of nursing. However, the care that we deliver and the outcome for patients are at the core of what we do as nurses. Nurses strive to achieve the best outcome for all patients and support patients though all decision making and treatment plans. This is reflected in the article by Hardie (2016) who discusses best practice for women in regards to their breast care. In this discussion views are presented for two choices that a woman may have. It is the nurses role in this to present women with this knowledge and support them in their decision making process. It is consumer focused and supports ideals of best practice. Scott (2016) also focuses on the patient in her discussion about end of life care for people with COPD, and challenges current practice by suggesting that we are not giving these patients the support that they need in the terminal stage of their disease. Henderson (2016) also discusses best treatment options for people undergoing opiate withdrawal, and the best option available to them considering their often complicated circumstances.
At the other end of the age spectrum, nurses are constantly trying to ensure babies and children have the best start in life, and this can be an on-going challenge for clinicians. Scotland (2016) discusses the significant burden that poor oral health has on our children and our healthcare dollar. This author reminds the reader about oral health best practice, and the potentially devastating lifelong consequences that can occur. Immunisation is another key topic that is at the fore of many healthcare debates. The HPV vaccination continues to be a relatively controversial addition to the immunisation schedule. Blackwell (2016) presents facts regarding the disease, which we as clinician’s can pass on to children and their families, to make an informed decision. This author also extends the discussion into the socio-political realm by stating that it is not just the role of a nurse, but teachers also need to be active in giving factual, unbiased information to children and families.
Nurses need to be prepared for the socio-political environment that they are entering into (Freed & McLaughlin, 2011). As demonstrated in this volume of the School of Nursing Online Journal, the socio-political context in which we nurse, and the very best patient outcomes that we want to achieve, are clearly evident. Nurses are programmed to deliver the very best care to the patient regardless of their circumstances and the environment that they may live in. This is often very challenging, but nurses accept the challenge to not just nurse the patient, but consider all of the other factors which brought them into the care of the nurse, and consider all of the factors which will help them leave the care of the nurse.
School of Nursing Online Journal
Freed,P.E., and McLaughlin,D.E. (2011). Futures Thinking: Preparing Nurses to Think for Tomorrow. Nursing Education Perspectives, 32 (3). 173-178.
Ministry of Health. (2015). Smokefree 2025. Retrieved from http://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/preventative-health-wellness/tobacco-control/smokefree-2025
Tsai,H-M., Cheng,C-Y., Chang,C-H., and Liou,S-R. (2014). Preparing the future nurses for nursing research: A creative teaching strategy for RN to BSN students. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 20. 25-31.