In nursing school, nurse Dona Jhon was taught to force medicine down the throats of patients who refused their daily dose of medicine. Now she cannot imagine doing that. “We are told to respect the wishes of a patient. So if a patient says no to medicine, we try to convince him or her politely. Only when they agree do we give it to them, even if it is prescribed,” says John.
“We didn’t learn any of this at nursing school. The entire nursing brief has been turned on its head. At school, there was barely any emphasis on how we looked, spoke or dealt with patients and their families, but now that’s as important as the
medical aspect. Here, a smiling face is a must. No one, ill or otherwise, wants a grumpy or expressionless nurse around,” says Jhon, who works in the paediatric ward at the Max Super Speciality Hospital in Saket, south Delhi.
When she joined the hospital two years ago, all she expected was to put her knowledge to use without interference from the hospital administration. The emphasis on behaviour surprised her. “The concept of the human touch has now come in. It wasn’t there earlier. It’s important that patients take away happy memories of their stay with us,” muses Jhon.
The importance being given to communication skills doesn’t amaze her. “It’s a good thing. If a nurse is pleasant and polite, the patient is able to express themselves better and that helps us take better care of their needs,” she says.
She misses her trinkets, though. “The uniforms have been specially designed for us to look neat and the grooming classes are given to help us put our best face forward. Sometimes I wonder — why would a nurse on surgical duty need to apply lip gloss? — but then I realise it’s all about cleanliness and hygiene. When a groomed look becomes a habit, it stays with you, wherever you go,” she says.