I have been a nurse for 25 years. I graduated as a Licensed Practical Nurse in 1985 from Salt Lake Community College, then went on to receive my RN from Weber State in 1987. I’ve worked in Utah from Ogden to St. George and have some wonderful memories of families I’ve met along the way.
In nursing school, we were taught to take care of patients. We did everything from back rubs to administering extensive medications and treatments. We were taught to get to know our patients, not just by disease, but at an emotional level as well as what motivates them and what factors influence their health decisions. What I found in a hospital setting was not exactly what I had envisioned.
Hospitals are a critical part of our healthcare system, and I deeply admire the expert care patients receive there. However, when patients are admitted to the hospital, their individuality is quickly lost. They are put in a hospital gown, assigned a room number, and given a diagnosis. Imagine, as a young nurse, when I heard patients being referred to as “the patient in room 102?, or worse, “the gallbladder in room 102.” A key job for hospitals is to improve a patient’s condition and get them home as quickly as possible. Most often, an illness is chronic and still problematic when people leave the hospital setting. Once home, they no longer have the supervision of their medications to ensure they take the right dose at the right time or times. Specialized treatments may have been prescribed at the time of discharge, with no certainty of who or how they will be done. Generally, after a hospitalization, individuals are weaker, not able to shop or prepare meals, or complete personal hygiene safely. What happens now?