The ‘expert’nurse comforter: Perceptions of medical/surgical patients

Authors

  • Annette Clare Walker RN DNE BAppSci(Nurs) MAppSci(AdvClinNurs) FCN FRCNA

    Corresponding author
    1. Lecturer in Nursing, Department of Medical, Surgical and Paediatric Nursing, Faculty of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Western Sydney Nepean, New South Wales, Australia
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Annette C. Walker, Department of Medical, Surgical and Paediatric Nursing, Faculty of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Western Sydney Nepean, PO Box 10, Kingswood, NSW 2747, Australia. a.walker@nepean.uws.edu.au.

Abstract

An interpretative study of Australian adult medical—surgical patients’experiences and perceptions of comfort and discomfort in hospital uncovered a number of themes. One theme, patients’perceptions of and experiences with nurses they called ‘good’or ‘expert’, is the subject of this paper. Informants provided brief vignettes of ‘expert’nurses and glimpses of skilled nursing that depicted nurses as important sources of comfort and well-being. Nurses who ‘knew what they were doing’in intensive-care units and in high-dependency, medical—surgical, postnatal and short-stay wards were reassuring, caring and ‘expert’. Informants’descriptions of expert nursing are briefly compared with descriptions found in the professional nursing literature. Because nursing work is poorly understood and because it is immensely comforting for patients to know that nurses are both competent and caring, nursing comfort and safety work deserve to have a higher profile in the public perception of nursing.

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