NURSES have a reputation for leading with their hearts, but their roles also demand a balance of skill, science, and empathy to deliver the best outcomes for patients.
As the world recognises their work and their role within the health system on International Nurses Day, two Hunter nurses have spoken about the opportunities and rewards of a career in nursing.
"It's easy, especially in a pandemic, to forget about the diversity of nursing," Jessica Stokes-Parish, a John Hunter Hospital nurse and HMRI researcher, told the Newcastle Herald.
"We often think about nurses as being only in a hospital, but there is so much diversity - whether it's working in the community, in primary care, being a nurse practitioner, a researcher, or a teacher - there's such a wide variety of places this career can take you. There are multiple career paths.
"But ultimately it is about having skilled conversations with individuals to achieve the best outcomes."
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife to highlight the vital role they play in providing health services.
The WHO hoped to encourage more people to consider careers in nursing and midwifery to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.
May 5 was International Midwives' Day.
May 12 is International Nurses Day.
But while breakfast events, lunches, and celebrations in honour of their work may have been cancelled due to COVID-19, nurses and midwives have inadvertently been thrust into the spotlight as the world watches them fight on the frontline of the pandemic.
"International Nurses Day was meant to recognise the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale, and it was supposed to be a pretty big deal," nurse practitioner Anthony Sokolowski said.
"But coronavirus has put nurses into the spotlight at the moment anyway.
"We are going through some pretty devastating times but it does show some of the challenges nurses face.
"They are also human, and they do go home and do other things, they have families - and I think the world has seen the commitment they have for their work.
"They do lead with their heart. And I think that has been shown."
Mr Sokolowski, who works within the emergency department at Belmont Hospital and as a development facilitator for the region's Nursing and Midwifery Services, said as a "nurse practitioner" he had an expanded scope of duties to a registered nurse.
"As nurse practitioner I do more advanced assessments, I do diagnostic stuff - I can order X-rays and other things and interpret them, and from there I can form a management and treatment plan.
"I can prescribe medication as well.
"My main aim, in my clinical role, is to deliver timely and safe access to care."
Mr Sokolowski was also a role model, a clinical leader, and an advocate for the knowledge and support nurse practitioners could offer in medical settings.
Ms Stokes-Parish had known from a young age she wanted to be a nurse.
"We are with the patient so often and for longer, and we get to know people," she said.
"Marrying that rapport with the science is what produces those great outcomes for patients."
Ms Stokes-Parish said they had been preparing for COVID-19 since January in her workplace.
"It was a really anxious period, because we didn't know what was coming," she said.
"We saw overseas how it was progressing so dramatically, and of course in the UK and the US it really spiraled out of control.
"Somehow we've been able to contain it with the measures that have been put in place. It just demonstrates that preparation is key. You can never predict what the outcomes will be, but you can prepare for the worst."
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