I watched her insert the IV cannula effortlessly. She made it look like a piece of cake. Deceived, I tried it on the next patient as she stood by the patient reassuring him. He yelled out in pain and most probably cursed me in his head! She quickly took over and completed the procedure smoothly. “Its alright Doctor! We all learned with practice.” The male nurse who helped me with my first catheterization attempt (it ended up more like him doing the procedure with me assisting!) had the same piece of advice for me. And how can I forget the other nurse who gave me the confidence as my hands trembled trying to put my first sutures on a six year old boy. The head nurse who would whisper to you during rounds that there are sweets in the nursing station (look malnourished, resemble her daughter and be a workaholic…you are definitely getting more food) and the sisters who made the extra cup of coffee for you during night duties… It was many such kind and efficient nurses in my Alma mater who taught us interns basic medical procedures. Though we learned the theory and many important procedures from seniors and consultants, it was the nurses who taught us the basics. And every doctor has the similar story to tell. The nursing staff taught us, scolded (throw the gloves in the wrong bin and they would make sure you paid for it!), and most importantly tolerated our haughtiness.
Are these caregivers not truly unsung heroes? Nursing is the largest occupational group in the health sector, accounting for approximately 59% of the health professionals. According to the World Health Organization, state of the world’s nursing 2020 report, nurses constitute 47.0% of health workforce in India. They literally “nurse” the patient back to good health. It is not just the medicines that the doctors prescribe, it is this care and watchfulness of the nurses that help a patient recover and get back on the road to health. If they don’t do their job well, no prescription from the doctor will do the hospitalized patient any good. Yet they are paid so poorly and treated with so little respect in India. During this pandemic, let us remember all the nurses who are struggling in PPEs to help patients survive. But this annual remembrance is not enough. Maybe it is time, we call out for better payment and benefits for nurses. With that, I pay my honors to all the nurses who cared for me during my hospital admissions, who taught me the basics of patient care and dedicate this to my favorite nurse, my mother.