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.

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