Dr. Geeta Sundar
It’s truly quoted – “You don’t build a house without its foundation. You don’t build a hospital without the nurses.”
But from where does one start to understand and learn what nurses mean to doctors?
The ocean is wide, the history enormous and shaped by years, where the interaction between doctors and nurses is sacred, precious and dynamic. Be it the times we were medical students, understanding and grasping concepts of prime clinical skills, watching OR nurses handle sterility, to the times we were interns, learning cannulation, art of breaking vials, or the time we were post-graduates, relying on their timely help and prompts to save face in rounds, or to the time we are consultants, accepting their gracious help in the care we give the patients. We have adored them, learnt from them, paid heed to their encouragement and been the wiser due to their constant guidance.
Like two peas in a pod, our paths cross endlessly, intertwined from the time a patient enters the hospital, yet so starkly different in the roles we play in the society. We work as a team, toiling away hours at the corner of our patients, but it is more often the nurses who are at the beck and call for the smallest issues the patients face. They are the face of home care, the voice of reassurance, the emblem of nurture, the coat with cool balm, the gentle side of hospice, the support with wisdom, the touch of balance, the bittersweet teacher and with thoughts of selfless service.
And despite the times we as doctors don’t see, it’s right there in front of us, albeit shaded over by our very own ego or confidence; that the nurses go miles beyond the work enlisted to them. They are the working power houses of the hospital. They care, they share, they advise, they nurture, they serve, they teach, they form the bridges between the words of doctors and the interventions to their patients.
It reminds me of a lichen, this tendrillar kinship we have with the nurses. There is give, there is take; there are arguments, there are discussions and mistakes, but so is there friendship, humanity, and love. We stand apart, ruled by different unions, but close together, when it’s one of us that needs comfort – we understand, we cater, we harbour, we honor, we cover for our fellow brethren in need.
Their journey is not an easy one. And neither is ours. It takes years of metal and steel to build a tough exterior and even tougher interior to face the challenges in medicine. And with their aid, we often ace at the care we provide. As a merger, a hospital is only as strong as its work folk are and, as with all the wonderful roses, so come the thorns. There are instances where our connection and design falls. We are only human; with different personalities, different cultures and approaches, and our united convergence rattles with interpersonal conflicts. In the circumstances we live in today, with better informed patients, ‘Doctor Google’ at play, the revered network between our counterparts faces many challenges. It is in those instances our common goal of patient welfare should be all that matters. And also respect for another person and the calibre of their job.
Our synergy will continue for eons to come. The banter, the flow of information, the communication we take part in are two parts of a whole; one can’t exist without the other; we are after all cut from the same cloth.