But my favourite thing about nursing, and what brings me the best job satisfaction, is being able to make people comfortable.
Specifically, I love washing people. I work under a hospital authority that does not have the budget for nursing aides to assist in offloading some of the physical and less technical aspects of nursing care. The bed making, feeding, bedpan emptying tasks all fall under the duties of us Registered Nurses. And the best of these duties is washing.
I love filling up the steely cold bedpans with hot, sudsy water. The smell of hospital soap is very comforting and familiar to me. I gather all the scratchy facecloths and towels (seriously, has anyone heard of fabric softener around here?) and bring them to the bedside. And then, for the next fifteen minutes or so, it's just me and the patient. And sometimes if the patient is physically heavy or hard to turn, another nurse helps too. When it's just me and a co-worker, the washing is like a choreographed rhythmic dance.
There are a lot of RN's out there that think these less skilled aspects of nursing are beneath their university-level education. But I disagree. On the contrary, it's when I am best able to use my assessment skills. Washing gives me the opportunity to assess skin integrity, which is so often compromised in elderly, fragile patients. Turning someone over in the bed allows me to evaluate pain control. But most importantly, I am able to get to know my patient, which is often difficult to do in a hurried, impersonal environment that the hospital provides. I get to know my patient's hopes, fears, and what they care about.
So pour me some soapy water. There's lots of washing to do.