Can or Should Nurses Be In Charge of Hospitals?
I am a staunch advocate of Nurses’ autonomy because I strongly believe that nurses are CAPABLE & can do more.
As a registered nurse myself, and seeing, firsthand the impact of the efforts of Nurses in the healthcare industry, I know that the roles of Nurses are beginning to evolve rapidly, with them shouldering more responsibilities as they increase capacity in various forms and on different levels, ranging from academic, administrative to clinical.
I stumbled upon a very interesting article on one of my favorite Nursing Blogs, and that article inspired this piece.
I will be making some referrals to portions of that article in this essay, and if you want to read it for yourself, here’s the link.
Threatened Or Concerned?
Are Physicians threatened or sincerely concerned? If they are concerned, they should be ready to allow nurses to take on more responsibilities in the areas of hospital/healthcare administration & clinical responsibilities – it’s teamwork and not a war.
If they are threatened, which may be what it is looking like, then they can go ahead (some of them), with the battle directed at making sure that the Nursing profession does not step into the shoes of autonomy that it is gradually growing to wear.
No one is thinking or planning on replacing Physicians. It is teamwork, and our concern, our central concern is that affordable and quality healthcare is made available to everyone who comes seeking it – it could be you or me.
The debate, the argument, is hooked on the baseless foundation that nurses are trained on different clinical theories, and so, are not qualified to independently manage patients, but the role of the Nurse Practitioner has over the years rendered this thought useless. (1,2,3)
Medicine evolved and is still evolving. It did not find itself in this level of development that it enjoys in this century. You need to read how medicine was like more than 200 or more years ago (it’s a funny & very hilarious history), you would definitely appreciate the tool of time that has allowed the profession to become what it is today. The nursing profession is also growing. It isn’t what it used to be some 100 years ago and it will not be like this in the next fifty or more years.
Nurse-led Hospital Administration
The leadership of any healthcare sector is not the sole responsibility of one healthcare professional. The sector should be given the luxury of enjoying the ideas of other professionals, of other families or clans within the vast healthcare community.
Hospital administration is more managerial than it is clinical (though clinical experience in some cases might be a major requirement), and nurses naturally fit this managerial/administrative role, by virtue of the inherent elements of the responsibilities of nurses, which revolves around the mandatory practice of working closely with patients, who are the core of healthcare practice, and their close interaction with other professionals in the healthcare team and their direct contact with the structures that make up the nucleus of any healthcare system.
Though they have been left out, deliberately from the business side of it all, it won’t be for long, because a new generation of Nurses are emerging that understand their abilities as Nurses. And they can not be stopped.
Like I said earlier, it’s a team. An interdisciplinary one. No one part can do it all alone. We need everyone to be on deck. Imagine a hospital building without Janitors? or without laundrymen or security personnel? We would be in the ICU and there is no one to make sure that the wastebaskets are kept clean & empty? No one is useless, we are all important members of this team, but, we must, in team spirit allow growth to have its course if we see that the growth [and development] is not going to be a source of harm to patients & practitioners alike.
Nurses want to be involved in the designing of policies. They want to be in the middle of the healthcare business. They have very unique perspectives that they can bring onto the board. If hospitals can listen more to the nurses, who are at the core, I tell you, they will make more progress.
The hospitals are not there to serve the Medical Directors, Doctors, Nurses, or Pharmacists, these hospitals are built to primarily serve the patients, and if you do want to know how the patient is doing, ask the Nurse. Don’t ask the Chief of Cardiology or The Surgery Chief, these guys don’t spend time down there, they just come, do their jobs and they are gone, until another round [or when they are called upon.]
But that guy is down there, around the sick fellow all the time, that’s how he is trained, what he is trained & built to do; he sees it all, he knows & understands what the patient wants. Ask him.
Nurses can and should lead hospital administrations. They should own hospitals. This is not an argument, it never is intended to be one, it is just a piece of my mind, what I think, and I know that advanced minds understand all that I am trying to say here.
For too long, Nurses have been relegated to the background, especially in developing parts of the world (I wouldn’t know how it is been done in Europe or Australia, I can only speak for the system that I am a part of). And whose fault is this? Maybe the fault of the system, or an inherent problem that we as Nurses have to deal with.
But the narrative is gradually changing. We are right in the middle of a historical paradigm shift. It is pertinent that we all come together as one and support initiatives that elevate the status of Nurses in the healthcare community and the world at large.
Let Nurses Begin To “Think More”
I know, from experience, what “the tradition” has done to many Nurses. And I have never been a slave to these traditions that do not have the weight or intelligence to shoot the Nursing profession to the heights that we should be.
A lot of us are still silent slaves to these traditions. We unknowingly bring ourselves under. When you tell some people that a Nurse can and should do this, they are surprised and worried. They are not accustomed to that way of thinking, it’s alien and foreign to them.
From their own purview, Nurses should not be allowed to rise too high. They should remain the humble servants of the healthcare community – are you seeing one of the many traditional thoughts that have been suppressing our potential as a profession?
When I think about the emergence of the Digital Age, I am filled with joy, because, everyone now has an equal space on the playing ground of innovation. It doesn’t matter if you have an MBBS or a Ph.D., or you are an APRN.
No, no one cares about all that. What we want to see is what you have in you! Show us!
You can reach out, seize the tools available out there, and create something that is of value to humanity.
That’s doing more. And more than 80% of my writing is centered around the theory or idea that Nurses should do more.
We are not going to be arrogant or allow hubris to take over when we begin to live our potential. We will be mindful of how we started and keep our focus on where we are headed as a professional community.
This article has been lightly edited and updated by the author.
Featured Image Credit: Unsplash