Vinu Varghese

12 years of experience
Working as a Nurse Educator in a reputed Multispeciality Hospital

Why did you choose nursing?

Well, I have many people in my family who are nurses, many of my aunts and cousins have been working as nurses for over two decades.There are plenty of opportunities in being a nurse as compared to other professions like that of an engineer. Moreover, you also carry a professional degree, hence, nursing came naturally to me.

What are the typical challenges faced by the nurses?

As per my current role – attrition is one of the main challenges, my profile consists of training the nurses. It is a trend – we work hard to train them and the nurses leave the jobs as soon as they find a better opportunity. This challenge then extends on to the next set of nurses who join, because we are unable to give them extended training, and are compelled to cut it short, say a week’s training before they are assigned with bedside duty.

Where do these nurses move out to?

With the current trend that I have seen, these nurses take a considerable amount of work experience, prepare for OET and IELTS exams, and then try to migrate abroad. Some also opt for government setups, comprehensive training for 6 months or a year. If there are 10 resignations, then at least 8 out of them would be immigration.

How, according to you, can these challenges be addressed?

My core area is training, to help the nurses adapt to the continuous challenge of heavy work, as well as adhere to the hospital policies in ensuring services, the patient to nurse ratio needs to be appropropriate if not perfect. If the number is highly skewed, which it generally is, then the nurses get overwhelmed with the increasing ratio – if there are more than 4 patients if the nurses are handling, then they are not able to perform at an optimum level, which can be dangerous.

I had been at the bedside duty in the Critical Care Unit for 6 years – I have felt the same, so I completely understand their plight, instead of being arrogant and forceful about this, I rather explain the benefits to them and help them to prioritize their day and work alignment. We have 10 things, and all of them are important, hence prioritization is key, this needs to be developed and implemented.

If one patient needs to be sent for ultrasound and for blood sampling, the nurse in charge needs to organise all of this, whether to coordinate with the general duty manager for the ultrasound appointment, and/or simultaneously collecting the blood samples. We as nurses,

will never get an ideal situation or a set up to work on – never, so we have to make sure that we prioritise and ensure all the pieces work smoothly together.

I always share my experiences in the CCU, all the tips, techniques and habits that have been suggested and taught by my seniors, I try my best to impart these to the nurses during the training. We also have programs like “Buddy-Mentor Pathways”. The mentor in your shift always guides the new nurses. The nurse educator might not be available always if there is a situation that needs to be addressed. The mentor and buddy pairing helps the buddy to develop certain skills as being the nurse educator. This helps the mentor to actually handhold the nurses or ‘buddies’ through their initial journey in the hospital. There are small groups then formed who oversee the mentors – it’s like the ‘train the trainer’ program.
The 12 years of experience gives me an upper hand to tackle the challenges – plus my mentor has 50 years of experience at work – all of these guide me and help to devise and conduct these programs.

What is the one challenge that the new nurses face? Lack of manpower?

Through my training lenses – we train the nurses in the theoretical aspect – because of which, most of the times when new nurses join, they don’t have an idea of what to expect on the bedside. They are not able to take the stress, it isn’t easy, there are multiple things that need to be done, 10 things will come to you in one go, this is a lot of pressure! Hence, the mentor is there to guide them through this.
Everything revolves around the nurses, from the F&B to the billing to laundry department, everything has to go through the nurse, they are basically the ones putting the pieces of puzzles together, in order for the nurses to absorb this and perform it effectively, the mentors help, and this has definitely helped the nurses through the initial tough phase. We are addressing the challenge itself! On the ground level, each scenario differs – and it has to be supervised by experienced mentors to maintain patient safety and to ensure that the new nurses learn their way through this.

What are your last thoughts, one thing you love about your job?

When you work as a nurse – you don’t work for money, it is all about self-satisfaction. At the end of the day, when you rewind all the things you have done, you have a sense of fulfilment.
The nursing profession is vast, and there are many roles to play in it. For me, being a trainer now, I have a responsibility of enabling new nurses, of ensuring how the seed of nursing is watered in their minds, in helping them through their doubts. I still get calls from old students, sometimes the nurses who, I had trained even 6-7 years ago, they call up and say things like, ‘Sir because of you, I have reached this level,’ or …’because you – whatever you taught us, I was able to crack that interview…’

In nursing, the reward may not be immediate, it might be delayed, but one thing is instant – a sense of satisfaction.