Saluting Our Unlicensed Assistive Personnel
By Diane M. Goodman, APRN, BC, MSN-C, CCRN, CNRN
In a world where Nurses' Week has become a big deal, with contests, gifts, and a celebration of all things "nursing," I would like to send a great big shout out to one of the hardest working and most valuable group of players in the healthcare profession, our unlicensed assistive personnel!
Whether we call them PCTs, UAPs or any of the alphabet soup they have been labeled, let us not forget they are the ones who spend the most time at the bedside of those who require care. Whether it is the countless bed baths, or bathroom trips, or a portion of hourly rounding, they are representatives of what "nursing" is all about ... nurturing and providing a compassionate face to represent our team. We could not (and should not) believe we could survive as nurses without them.
Throughout my career, I have never met a more enthusiastic group of learners. They soak up knowledge like a sponge, anxious to identify "what else" they can do at the bedside. When I taught them to be partners in pain management, they were thrilled to know that repositioning, ice, heat, distraction and soothing conversation could assist in decreasing the patient's perception of pain. Previously, they thought informing the nurse was the most they could do to help the patient in distress. They became much less interested in the basket of treats I carried for classes than the material that was being presented. They could aid in avoiding pneumonia by providing oral care? The use of mouth swabs, toothbrushes and clean dentures began to climb.
I hope to never lose my respect and admiration for this division of the nursing team. They can make or break us at the bedside, as they are usually the first and last team members to see the patient. In an industry where many of them seek to advance their skills via a clinical ladder, or by pursuing a nursing degree, let's salute them and provide an enormous thank you during Nurses' Week, when their status may seem somewhat diminished by all the celebratory festivities.
Hurray to our unlicensed assistive personnel ... 1,505,300 strong and growing*!
*(United States Census Bureau Workforce Statistics, 2012).