It used to be that years ago the prime reason given why girls (and it was mainly girls) gravitated to the nursing field was a desire to care and look after sick people. Put bluntly, the academic prowess or achievements of the young lass was often a secondary consideration for acceptance. This isn’t meant to put anyone down, it was the golden and glorious age of sexism and stereotyping People (mainly women) with a modest educational profile had an avenue for employment that did not require the grades needed that would have enabled them to enter University.
In the initial stages of training to become a nurse most tasks were manual in nature and required little by way of intellectual or critical thought. Novices were shown by Matrons the right way to scrub a pan, make a bed, clean up vomit and wipe a dirty bottom and no question was asked for fear of a frightful lashing of the tongue or the promise of a month of night shift. It was a case of Monkey see, Monkey do and for a long time it worked quite well, this Master / Apprentice type model.
In many ways the “old fashioned Nurses” scope was a lot broader and more varied than today’s Professional. Long before Dieticians, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists and other members of the multidisciplinary team graduated from Universities and joined the system, the nurse was the all rounder, looking after the total patient and trusted by all for her judgement which was based on a hard earned reputation built on years of experience and compassion. Today’s nurse strives to provide holistic care but is this the same (for better or worse) as the whole of person care previously given. A lot of Nurses today complain that they spend more time seeing that compliance standards are meet then meeting the needs of the patient.
The change since nursing moved from Hospital based to the Tertiary setting has necessitated a seismic change in the acceptable minimum academic requirements to even begin to train as a Nurse. Is this a good or a bad thing? The same people who 40 years ago may have had only very basic education and who have gone on to be today’s exceptional nurses and leaders would never have been given the opportunity to enrol now.
Whether it is liked or not, in today’s health care environment a certain level of academic expertise is needed and expected and if they are not meet a Nursing qualification is unattainable. OP scores will dictate if a school leaver will receive an offer for a University or TAFE place. Once in the course be it a Diploma or Degree, it does not matter what passion or empathy is in the heart, it doesn’t matter how hard someone works or studies, if a student cannot cobble together an acceptable presentation or assignment they will not qualify to become an Enrolled or Registered Nurse. Being a good person doesn’t matter if the minimum academic criteria is not meet. It can be harsh and at times it can be cruel.
Today’s nurse has to be techno savvy. There’s no way around it, they simply have to be. It can literally be the difference between life and death. Machines that prod, poke and are connected to the patient need to be programmed, calibrated, interrupted, analysed and understood. This cannot be done without training, practice and experience and all of this starts with education and assessment. Today’s Nursing environment demands and does not apologise for this.
This is not to say that some who struggle with the technical aspects of qualifying to become a nurse will find practising difficult once they have graduated. It can be quite the opposite. The vast amount of technology that is used in Health Care is absolute in nature and structure. Once understood it can then be mastered. Education, repetition and mentoring at the coalface will see to that. Perhaps it is only then once this is achieved that Real Nursing, old fashioned “whole of person care” Nursing can commence?
What do you think?