Education is an ever-increasing intervention in nursing today. Nurses must be as willing to learn however as they are to teach. New interventions and ideas and procedures are forever forthcoming. Nurses must be equal to the task of learning and continuing to grow from the day they enter the field of nursing until the day they retire.
Over the last forty years the field of medicine has had major advancements. Since the first successful CABG (coronary artery bypass graft) performed on a human in 1962 the field of Cardiac medicine and intervention alone has grown incomparably. In 1968 close on the heels of the CABG came the IABP (Intra Aortic Balloon Pump) for stabilizing left ventricular heart failure. Coronary Angiogram and PTCA (Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty) balloon angioplasty were introduced in 1974. The first coronary stents invented as recently as 1993. These procedures have all been through changes and improvements over the years. These are just cardiac interventions. All fields of medicine have continued to grow almost as rapidly.
The education I have had to undertake just since finishing my associate degree is vast. I was already a LPN working in Critical Care. I mentioned many of the procedures above because they make up a great deal of the type of patients we care for. These procedures also include much of the learning I was required to perform to be able to care for these patients properly. Nurses who begin a career in cardiac care will need to fully understand and be able to intervene for patients that have undergone all of these procedures. Nurses are also required to teach about all of these procedures. We must also stay informed of new procedures that are developed daily.
Critical Care is considered a specialty field. Many fields of nursing are considered to be specialty fields. Each having their own procedures and interventions that the nurses will be responsible for. All nurses must learn BLS, basic life support. Critical Care Nurses must acquire ACLS, advanced cardiac life support certifications. These certifications are required. Once these are obtained a nurse can begin training for recovery of CABG patients. Nurses will also be trained to remove coronary arterial sheaths post angiogram or angioplasty. There is always risk involved in the care of the patient that has had these invasive procedures. Bleeding is a possibility as well as coronary instability. Cardiac nurses also receive training in use of IABP and care of patients requiring this intervention. These patients will have an arterial sheath that remains in place. The patients’ activities are very limited due to this fact. Creating more potential problems. These are just a few of the things critical care nurses must learn.
Teaching is continuous as well. Nurses must be able to explain the use of all of these methods and probable outcome and possible difficulties. We must be able to do all these things and never lose site of the fact that the patients and families we are attempting to teach are very likely frightened. The hospital is a terrifying place for patients and families. Many do not understand what is going on and much of what happens is foreign and unnatural. Nurses must be able to alleviate these fears through education. Using education as our tool we must be able to explain in terms that people of average intelligence can understand. Nurses should be accessible and easy to interact with or question if the need arises. Patients and family should feel that they may ask anything and not be seen as ignorant or stupid. Nurses should have the ability to put people at ease and not appear arrogant or superior. Nurses remain educated about the issues at hand because learning is part of our accepted criteria. Nurses are involved in a field that requires constant education.
In my opinion nurses are voracious for education. We enter a field that is ever changing and we accept the fact that our education is continuous. Many nurses are like good detectives we hunger for answers to questions. The questions are of a health nature and are often elusive. Nurses continue to search to learn to hunger for knowledge. Nurses often complain about having to go to this class or train for this intervention or watch that video. Deep down though I believe nurses are the perpetual students of life. Venturing to know, to do, to see all things and along the way help as many people as we can.