What’s Nursing all about?

As a student nurse I need to study human anatomy and physiology (A&P). Now these are some serious subjects right there. The human being, however, is much more complex than what our textbooks teach us.

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Nursing is all about a holistic approach to care! ‘What is it exactly?’ you may ask. In the 20th century George Engel introduced the biopsychosocial model which is a holistic approach to care in treatment of patients in order to prevent the dehumanization of care. Nurses are not just dealing with symptoms, illnesses or diseases but with people. A&P can teach you where the heart is, how big it is, what type of cells it is composed of and what function it has, however, A&P will not teach you that the heart of a patient might be filled with stress, fear, anxiety, anger, hate, hopelessness, or sorrow. It is important to understand that nurses are to look at a patient as a person who has physical, psychological, mental, social and spiritual needs and a nurse’s job is to identify these needs and help the patient.

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A nurse which observes a patient holistically should trace all the way back to the initial reason why a patient is suffering from a certain symptom or illness. For example, long-term unemployment could lead to depression. Depression, which is a mental disorder, could lead to physical symptoms, such as: insomnia, fatigue, malnutrition or obesity. These symptoms could lead to a compromised immune system, which leads to a higher risk of infections and an untreated infection could lead to death. Some of you might say that this sounds ridiculous but it is often the little things that could lead to great harm. In March 2014 there was a man from Lancashire who died of a heart attack, due to a septic infection, all because he had the habit of biting his nails. But why was this man biting his nails in the first place? Guess! Yes, he suffered from depression and anxiety.

To sum up, a patient is a person who has certain needs. Having a holistic approach to the treatment of patients is the key to becoming a good nurse.

Silent Communication

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Recently I joined one of the societies at UEA called British Sign Language or simply BSL. At first I was just curious but then I realized that learning a sign language is one of the most fun things to do. Although in the beginning this silent way of communication looked too difficult, I found out that it is indeed a truly simple and effective way of expressing yourself and understanding others.

Sign language involves not only your hands but also your facial expressions, and body movements. It uses various signs (hand movements + appropriate facial expressions) to express words. Unlike American Sign Language, British Sign Language uses both hands. By pointing at each finger on your left hand with your right index finger you can ‘say’ the vowels, however, if you are left handed you should do the exact opposite. Yes, even in sign language people are either left- or right-handed. You didn’t know that, did you? What is more, there are different dialects and each country has its own unique sign language.

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OK, next thing to keep in mind is that you should avoid moving your hands way too far from your body. Best is to keep your hands around the level of your chest without letting them fall down too low neither keeping them too high. In addition, it would be great if you open your lips and ‘speak’ without actually pronouncing out loud the letters or words. After some time you will learn how to lip-read as well.

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Will you be able to decode the secret message which is finger-spelled below?

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This is a quote by Helen Keller, a girl who was not only deaf and mute but also blind. Despite her disability, she graduated college and published 12 books. She learned how to speak and how to understand people by reading their lips with her hands. Keller is an outstanding example of how communication in any form can enlighten someone’s life and bring hope and joy.

I truly hope you learned something interesting and useful. It might happen only a few times in your lifetime to meet a person with deafness or muteness but wouldn’t it be nice to bring happiness in someone’s life by simply communicating with them?