At this time of year, with winter pressures putting a strain on all areas of the healthcare industry, all medical professionals are in high demand, with their expertise being most valuable during the colder months. However, some of the skills that are needed the most are those delivered by nurses.
With comprehensive communication and people skills to complement their vast medical knowledge, nurses provide a vital service at this time of year, as well as throughout the warmer months. Even though nurses of all levels of experience are needed and vital to the efficient running of the healthcare service, those who are just starting their career may feel as though they don't have the same range of expertise to offer patients.
However, this is not true and trainee nurses can be a brilliant resource for healthcare professionals across the world in the both the NHS and private care.
But how exactly can newly qualified nurses help alleviate the burden on hospital departments and clinics at this time of year?
Accident and Emergency
Accident and Emergency departments are one of the areas that feel the biggest strain during the winter period. People may find it difficult to get to GP practices, with shorter opening hours and bad weather making it difficult, while the number of patients needing medical attention for slips and falls also increases rapidly. Those living with long-term conditions may also need care from emergency departments because of the hostile climate having a negative impact on their health.
Newly qualified nurses can help address these areas of high demand by being able to go where they are most needed. Unlike more experienced professionals who may have already specialised in one area or department, trainee nurses are well equipped to deal with a range of ailments and conditions just as well, making them flexible and versatile enough to cope with the demand in busy A&E departments.
They can also be useful in terms of helping patients who may have less serious problems, helping to get them seen quickly, leaving more experienced and specialised staff free to deal with people who require their skills.
Helping the Elderly
The winter months are challenging for a large number of elderly people, with the colder weather leaving them vulnerable. The sudden drop in temperature can cause problems with long-term conditions common amongst older people such as arthritis or asthma, while icy surfaces can be treacherous for the elderly.
Slippery surfaces can mean that the older generation fall and hurt themselves more often, while a bad experience of injuring themselves during winter can make them reluctant to go outside and can make them isolated.
Newly qualified nurses can help with this growing issue by being a point of contact for the elderly when they are in hospital having suffered a fall or from GPs. Nurses can tell older people about the measures they can take to help prevent trouble during the colder months. This can be anything from being prepared for the colder climate to giving them information about how they can protect their health.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has stated that more training places are needed to cope with the increasing demand on healthcare departments across the UK. Health Education England announced a four per cent increase in the number of nursing training places as part of its Workforce Plan for England for 2015/16.
Speaking about the announcement, Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “This increase in training places is a step in the right direction, but more places are needed if we are to address the current shortfall and cope with rising health and social care demands.
“Demand for the health service is rising, and with thousands of vacant posts forcing hospitals to rely on overseas and agency staff, we are playing catch up - even with this increase."
The boost in training places means there has been no better time to begin training as a nurse, to help alleviate the demand in the future.
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