May 12, 2010
Today is the birthday of Florence Nightingale. It’s also the last day of National Nurses Week. It seems like an appropriate opportunity to highlight the dedication and hard work of the nursing profession.
I recently had the opportunity to spend a week shadowing nurses in a hospital emergency department (ED) as part of a pre- and post-occupancy study Herman Miller Healthcare is conducting to compare the hospital’s existing facility to a new space that will be ready later this year.
It was a privilege and a humbling experience to spend 50 hours with the ED nurses. I expected the nurses to be caring and professional to all patients but I did not fully appreciate the difficult and stressful conditions under which ED nurses must maintain their professionalism. The tremendous respect I have for them and other health professionals has only grown.
Everyone who came through the door was treated with equality and received the same quality of care, whether it was someone with a sore throat who should not have been in the ED, or a frequent visitor to the ED hoping for a few pain relievers, or a chest pain sufferer who needed immediate attention. Large or small, frivolous or urgent, everyone was respected and cared for. The nurses certainly were frustrated with patients or worn down by a busy day in the ED but I never saw this come out during an interaction with the patient.
Thanks to all the nurses for their dedication to their patients. And special thanks to the nurses that allowed me to spend time with them. Florence Nightingale would be proud.
May 7, 2010
Here at Herman Miller, we’ve been studying the needs of healthcare professionals for over 40 years. It is our goal to create products that can reduce some of the stress and burdens that these professionals, such as nurses, face on a daily basis.
In addition to the healthcare research I do at Herman Miller, I’m familiar with these issues outside of work because my wife, Lindsay, has been a nurse for four years. Since we’re in the midst of National Nurses Week (May 6 through 12), I would like to share some insights about life in the nursing profession.
Nursing is often a thankless job that requires massive amounts of dedication, commitment, patience, and skill. While I work a standard Monday through Friday 8-5 job, my wife works any day of the week (including weekends), 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. I get major holidays off; she gets two of the four major holidays off, and it changes every year. I sit in front of a computer most of the day; she stands, walks, lifts, tucks, charts, cleans, dispenses meds, and starts IVs. And that’s not all. Besides these demanding physical tasks, nurses tackle the emotional challenges of dealing with sick patients and their families. They need to display quick and critical thinking from their library of knowledge to make life-saving decisions for their patients. They deal with the complexities of relationships and collaborate with multiple members of an interdisciplinary healthcare team. Ultimately, they focus on helping people heal.
At Herman Miller, we aim to alleviate their burden and simplify nurses’ tasks by providing them with easy access to supplies and ergonomic solutions in the healthcare environment. That allows nurses to direct 100% of their focus on the patient rather than dealing with insufficient equipment and processes.
This year’s theme for National Nurses Week is “Caring Today for a Healthier Tomorrow.” Thanks to my wife and all the nurses—retired and practicing—I can look forward to a healthier tomorrow.