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Letter from Zambia 2: The attributes critical care nurses need

 Chris Carter, Kevin Crimmons and Sue Viveash ask Zambian student nurses: what attributes do critical care nurses need?

Chris Carter, Kevin Crimmons and Sue Viveash ask Zambian student nurses: what attributes do critical care nurses need?

Over the past few days of our stint in Zambia we have been delivering a series of sessions focusing on assessment and care of the critically ill patient, evidence based care, management of shock and the provision of critical care services.


Major Chris Carter (back row, 2nd from left) and Major Sue Viveash (front row, 2nd from left) pictured with the student group

Throughout all of our sessions, we have tried to encourage the students to share their experiences and confirm their knowledge and skills as future critical care nurses. Consistently the patient has been at the centre of all our discussions about care. And we have seen a shift in the culture in the classroom, with students starting to become more interactive and expressive of their ideas and experiences.


The needs of the patient were at the centre of every teaching session

This morning we explored the provision of critical care services as a concept. Before using the global definition from the World Federation of Critical Care Nurses (WfCCN) on what makes a critical care nurse, we asked the students about the attributes and skills you need to be a critical care nurse?

In groups, the nurses came up with the following:

  •     Advocate
  •     Care giver
  •     Research agent
  •     A consultant
  •     Co-ordinator
  •     An engine for change
  •     Mediator
  •     Collaborator
  •     Counsellor

Interestingly, the groups opinion was reflected in the components of the WfCCN definition, such as nurses providing ‘comprehensive patient centred care’ and being ‘essential to the multi-disciplinary team’. This resonated with us as UK critical care nurses as we can empathize with the core skills and attributes these fledging nurses articulated with little or no prompting from us.

This was further confirmed on many levels during the rest of the day; for example, during one part of the teaching session, using a case study approach, groups produced an in-depth nursing care plan with the patient firmly rooted at the centre of the care. 

In the afternoon, the nurses tackled practical scenarios; instead of using manikins we used live actors. In their positive response to the actors they clearly demonstrated prioritisation of care including co-ordinating on-going care. During the debrief, the ‘patient’ remarked they had felt listened to and involved in their care planning.

We felt that if we had repeated the exercise with critical care nurses in the UK, we would have found similar attributes and common ground; this made us proud to be part of the world critical care nursing family.


About the authors

 

Major Chris Carter (pictured) is a critical care nurse and nurse educator at the Defence School of Healthcare Education, Department of Healthcare Education, which is co-located at Birmingham City University, UK

Kevin Crimmons is an Associate Professor, Head of Adult Nursing, Birmingham City University, UK

Major Sue Viveash is a Nurse Educator at the Defence School of Healthcare Education, Department of Healthcare Education, which is co-located at Birmingham City University, UK.

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