Care from the heart
If you have ever had the experience of being a patient in a hospital setting, you have no doubt been under a nurse's care. As a patient you certainly deserve the best possible care from your nurses and hopefully they have a warm, compassionate, empathetic and caring spirit. Every now and then you come in contact with an exceptional nurse—one who has taken the time to get to know you as a patient.
Naresh Rana whose petite frame stands five-foot-two is casually dressed in a pair of jeans. It's her off day. She is polite, soft spoken, humble, yet prepared to talk about her nursing career.
Rana has been motivated to help others since she was a small child growing up in Nurpur bedi, a small town in India. She was intrigued when she saw the same nurse every day dressed in her white uniform, wearing a nurse's cap, walking to work. Rana knew she wanted to be part of the nursing profession.
The nursing programs in India today have a waiting list and are difficult to get into because the competition is fierce. Twenty years ago when Rana went to school it wasn't a problem.
Educated at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMC), she learned to speak English, received her nursing degree in three and a half years, completed the required six months of midwifery training and graduated in 1986. She concluded her training at Sector 16 Chandi Garh Hospital. After working three years as a RN she enrolled in the two-year BSN program at the Post Graduate Institute and Hospital (PGI). With only 20 seats available in the BSN program and hundreds and hundreds applying to get in, Rana passed her entrance exam on the first try placing her number four.
Nursing students in India are required to live on campus. However, BSN students can live off campus, although it is more expensive to do so. To conserve, Rana lived on campus. A very regimented schedule, Rana's day began with clinical rotations from 7 am to 10 am; rest from 10 am to noon; lunch from noon to 1 pm; classes from 1 pm to 4:30 pm; and clinical rotations again from 5 pm to 9 pm—a fairly intense program, "but one you get used to," says Rana. "It also helped," Rana says, "that the nursing board scheduled exams every year you were in school so by the time you completed the program, there were no tests to take. You were ready to go to work."
After working in India for 10 years, she and her husband moved to the United States in April 1996.
Her English skills were put to the test when she first arrived in the United States. "Everybody talked too fast," she says, but her neighbor was kind and patient with her and convinced her to take the LVN exam. She passed and worked as a LVN for a year and a half at a nursing home. She took the NCLEX in 2000 and passed it the first time with a goal to work at an acute care facility. Attending a recruiting event at Kaiser Permanente, she was interviewed, hired and accepted a position at Davis Medical Offices. In 2002 she began working at the Sacramento Medical Center where she remains today.
Today when she looks back on her experiences in her homeland and compares her education and nursing experiences to that in the United States, she knows she was thoroughly trained and well prepared. In India she says keeping up with her workload was exhausting. Rana says the patient ratios in India at the time were 1:10-15 and today they are the same compared to 1:5 at Kaiser Permanente. However, to balance the heavy workload in India, she says each year they were given a lighter load. For example, they moved from ICU to ICCU to Medical patients.
Rana says that technology in the United States is more advanced. In India, they used a lot of paper and had no computers. As a matter of fact, the only computers available at the time were used in the lab.
Basic nursing and caring for patients is much the same here as in India. With pride Rana articulates why her patients are very special to her.
"Each patient is unique and presents with a different set of problems and illness," she says. "In addition to that illness, there may be other things going on." She says a nurse has to get to know her patients.
"We have to listen carefully to what their needs are, ask them how their day went, and let them verbalize their feelings. That's part of our job," she says with conviction. Rana even lets her patients know when she's taking a break or going to lunch. When she returns, she checks on them.
When a patient presses the call light, there's no delay in tending to that patient unless Rana is with another patient. "It's unfair to make them wait," she says. And no task is beneath her. As a matter of fact, she does as much for her patients as possible and doesn't utilize the nurse assistant unless she needs help turning a patient.
"Recently one of my patients pressed her call light and when I arrived at her bed, she had been sweating profusely and was soaking wet. I could have asked the nurse assistant to change the patient and her bed, but as far as I was concerned, she was my patient and my responsibility," says Rana.
Rana recalls another story about a patient who was extremely ill and in a lot of pain but didn't want to take her pain medication. The patient was fearful of how the medication would make her feel and asked questions. "Most patients don't question me about their medications," says Rana, "they just take them." Rana quietly explained the benefits of the medication, the dose, and how long the medication would last in her body. The patient then agreed to take her medication.
"It's more than administering meds; you have to look at the whole picture. You have to give care from your heart," Rana says.
Down the line, Rana says she might consider a leadership role, but for now it's all about her patients.
"Nursing is very fulfilling," she says.
She says if she ever goes back to India to work, it would be to teach, not to work as a clinician.
"Working that kind of load in India will burn you out," she chides.
Release Date: May 15, 2007
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