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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Happy National Nurses Week to all our friends and colleagues! You may be wondering why I am writing about this in the Community Corner. We all know how important a good doctor is to getting good health care. But how many of us think about the role of nurses in the lives of people with epilepsy? Are nurses just “there” when you go to the hospital or your doctor’s office? How often have you thought about what nurses bring to your experiences? How do they fit into your community?

Epilepsy and nursing share many common traits. Both are very diverse.

  • There are different types of seizures and epilepsy as well as different types of nurses. Nurses come in all shapes and sizes too with diverse roles, such as direct care provider, advanced practice nurse, caregiver, researcher, educator, supporter, coach, advocate, administrator and more.

  • The experiences of people with epilepsy vary along a spectrum and nurses can be found at many of those crossroads.

  • Nurses can be found in most settings where people live, work, play, learn or seek health care. A nurse may be the first health care provider a person with epilepsy comes in contact with or the most frequent one.

  • You can find nurses in primary care offices, wellness clinics, emergency rooms, epilepsy clinics and monitoring units, neurology units, operating rooms, rehabilitation programs or hospitals, vocational programs, independent living settings, group homes, workplaces, schools, camps, industry, public health and government agencies, and, of course, Epilepsy Foundation affiliates and the national office. The list is endless.

  • Most nurses don’t get specialized training in epilepsy in school. They learn on the job and from the real experts, people living with seizures and epilepsy.

Despite all the variety in nursing, in my view ”a nurse is a nurse is a nurse.” A nurse’s beliefs and approach to health and illness sets nursing apart from many other health care professions. Nursing emphasizes:

  • Addressing human responses to health and illness and not just the disease, disorder or illness

  • Compassion, caring, supporting, and “being present”

  • Listening and understanding different perspectives and the “whole patient and family unit”

  • Being “patient-centered”

  • Teaching others how to manage their health

  • Advocating for others and for their profession

Challenges are many in health care today. We are constantly faced with finding ways to do a better job, be more cost effective and efficient, and tackle bigger challenges. Nurses must continue to work together with doctors, other health care professionals and people living with epilepsy to find answers that work and make life better.

For those of you who are nurses or have a family member or friend who is a nurse – thank you for being there. Thank you for understanding the needs of families living with epilepsy, for caring, and for reaching out to help.

To our nurses within the Epilepsy Foundation family, thank you for helping lead the way.

To families living with epilepsy, thank you for allowing us to be part of your life.

Best wishes!

Authored by: Patricia O. Shafer RN MN on 5/2014
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