The higher the nurse-to-patient ratio, the healthier patients become and fewer re-admissions were noted, according to academicians at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Researchers have also found that mortality rates slide with a higher nurse-to-patient ratio. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that the ideal nurse-to-patient ratio is one nurse for every 200 patients. Even ﬁrst-world countries such as the US are facing a shortage of nurses, so much so that the state of California has launched a safe patient ratios campaign to address the diminishing numbers of caregivers that is expected to fall by 40% in the next 15 years.
The shortage of nurses puts a strain on those in the profession who have had to face extra workloads, longer hours and increased pressure, which is also why you may have to wait longer for attention at the hospitals. Nurses have also reported that they have to do double duty at times, where they would have to either work two shifts or do the work of two people.
While addressing the shortage of nurses, existing nurses must also be motivated to specialise or become what the industry refers to as ‘thinking nurses’. Unlike general nurses, specialist nurses can assess situations and make critical decisions besides educate patients on caring for their own well-being.
Before you venture into the world of nursing and medicine, you ﬁrst need to determine if you are suited for the profession, before deciding which nursing route to take and, subsequently, which specialisation to undertake.
What attributes do you need to be a nurse?
Not everyone can be a nurse. Just like doctors, interest and academic qualiﬁcations aren’t enough to guarantee one can embark on a nursing career. Candidates also need:
- Compassion and empathy
Perhaps the most important attribute for a nurse is compassion. You would be taking care of people when they are deeply in need and highly vulnerable. Without empathy and a positive attitude, you would not be able to ﬁnd interest and joy in nursing.
- To be organised and clear-headed
You will also need to be organised and clear-headed, as you will often be in life-or-death situations. You would need to stay calm to provide the necessary care. There are also times when you need to make snap decisions, especially if you are a specialised nurse with the knowledge to do so.
- Be physically and emotionally strong
Nurses often work long hours and on shifts, just like doctors. As such, you would need to be strong enough to withstand long and demanding hours. You would already know that nurses often face gory or bloody scenes, so nursing is not for the squeamish.
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