A friend of mine went into labor with her first child a few months ago and accounted that while she was receiving her epidural, the administering doctor and nurse were arguing over the proper way to insert it, and who was most fit for the job. She described it as an “ego battle,” full of frustrated sighs, snide remarks, a few eye rolls, and what appeared to be a complete lack of attention to the fact that the patient was in the room, let alone on the receiving end of their needle.
Like any relationship, the one between physicians and nurses isn’t always smooth, but it’s definitely one that shapes many aspects of the healthcare environment. Perhaps the most important one in this scenario: patient care.
Of course. That’s how people become empathetic in the first place. Children are not naturally empathetic. They are largely self-centered beings whose main focus is on getting their own needs met at all costs. Much of “growing up” has to do with moving from a role of taking, to one of also giving, of learning to set our own thoughts, feelings, and needs aside sometimes, so we can make space for those of other people. This ability, of course, is the key to feeling and expressing empathy.
But what if a person did not learn these skills as they grew up? What if expressing empathy doesn’t come naturally to them? Are they then hopeless? Of course not. If they want to learn to be empathetic, more often than not, they can.
The Institute of Medicine has released a report called The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, outlining a path for improving the nation’s healthcare delivery system and the nursing profession. The 560-page manuscript is an in-depth examination of the nursing workforce and is a blueprint for the role nurses will play in the future of healthcare.
This landmark study is the result of a two-year effort by the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to investigate the connection between the diverse and changing patient population and the lifespan and actions of the nursing labor pool.