Why nurses are vital for individualized healthcare

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Why nurses are vital for individualized healthcare

Nurses are often the first and most frequent healthcare professional a patient will see when seeking care. Therefore, nurses play an important role in assessing risk and providing effective treatment. They are also in a unique position to understand the needs of their patients and advocate on their behalf. All of these factors allow nurses to gain valuable, influential insight in regard to delivering individualized care.

More than any other profession, nurses spend a larger proportion of their working hours interacting with patients. A study taken in an intensive care setting found that nurses spent almost 33% of their day in a patient’s room, which was more than double that of physicians or other support staff. From the patient’s perspective, approximately 86% of their interactions with a healthcare worker included a nurse. 

It’s no surprise that patient health outcomes are intimately linked to the quality of nursing care provided. Most communication comes through a nurse; most administrative and medical procedures are done by a nurse; and most of the emotional and practical support will be delivered by a nurse. As a result, patients are more likely to develop a sense of trust and rapport with their nurses than anyone else. 

How nurses provide individualized care

Trust and rapport are important when a patient first enters care. Whether in a hospital, residential or outpatient setting, a patient has anxieties and questions that need to be addressed. Nurses validate their concerns, answer questions, and guide them along the next steps of the process. They may also act as a point of referral if the patient needs additional service or notify a safeguarding specialist if they see potential for harm. If there are unexpected problems during care, the nurse is responsible for keeping the patient updated and providing support in the meantime. 

Although nurses are rarely viewed as the healthcare professional with the most authority, they arguably have the most influence. Due to the longer periods of time spent with a patient, nurses are more likely to catch mistakes in medication or treatment. This not only prevents side effects or hospital admissions due to such errors, but also saves providers time and resources that would be spent rectifying mistakes. Nurses are found to be the most important factor when determining patient willingness to engage with treatment, as they are responsible for explaining to patients and family how medication and care are delivered. Nurses foster dialogue between patient and provider so that each side understands how treatment is progressing.

Because nurses spend more time with their patients than any other profession, they better understand their wants, needs, limitations, and concerns. Taking an interest in the patient’s values, beliefs and personality has always been at the heart of what a nurse does. It is because of this that nurses understand what parts of a care plan might be effective, as well as the best ways to implement it so that the patient will follow it. 

This knowledge allows a nurse to serve as an important role in advocating for patient interests, both at the bedside and in more formal settings. Nurses have both clinical and personal knowledge and can act as an intermediary that advises on medical decisions while voicing patient concerns. A nurse will be able to challenge a procedure that’s not in the patient’s best interests, and then understand the best way to deliver complicated information.

How nurses advocate for individualized care

Nurses also play an influential role in wider conversations about patient-centered care. Drawing from their personal experiences, nurses are able to demonstrate the importance of individualized care, whether it is to healthcare executives, policymakers or even the patients themselves. Every patient has different needs and goals in their recovery process, and a generic treatment plan is rarely most effective. Individualized care has been shown to save money, decrease admission times, and lead to better and more satisfying patient outcomes. Nurses know first-hand about the value of providing personalized care, and they are best suited to advocate for its implementation. 

Individualized care is becoming increasingly important as the world shifts toward healthcare that is more empowering and engaging with communities. The World Health Organization implemented a person-centered framework for healthcare that has been adopted by most countries. As the largest population of healthcare providers, nurses are disproportionately affected by this shift. Fortunately, they are also the best prepared since individualized care has always been at the heart of nursing. Therefore, they play a key role in advising and guiding others during this period of transition.

Advocating for change and new ideas is not always easy. One obstacle to individualized care is staff shortages, which makes it difficult for healthcare providers to commit the level of care and attention to each patient that is necessary. However, many providers have made changes to encourage more people to pursue a career in nursing. Hospitals are offering training incentives and bonuses for nurse trainees, and educational programs are becoming more flexible for prospective students. For example, hybrid BSN programs in Missouri offer coursework online with supervised clinical rotations with patients. Many such programs are fast-tracked and can lead to licensure after only 16 months of study.

Conclusion

Nursing and individualized care have been linked from the beginning. As the main point of contact for patients, nurses are the ones ensuring that personalized care is offered to every person they interact with. They also are the ones who capture these experiences and share them with decision makers all over the world. Nurses are key advocates for individualized care in the healthcare system, and their influence will continue to grow.

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