1. Elmassian, Georgia MSN, MA, APRN, CPSN, CFLE

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Are you just a nurse? According to Rasmussen College (2018), there is no such thing. A nurse is so much more than the proverbial just a nurse. Nurses play many different roles. So many that it is nearly impossible to encompass all the facets of a nurse in one job title. With over 3 million nurses in the United States caring for patients, the profession is undeniably central to the heart of health care. Without nurses and everything we do, health care could not function-plain and simple.

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Think about how Rasmussen College (2018) describes what a nurse is. In other words, take a moment to ponder and reflect what it means to be you ...


A nurse is an educator. Nurses are critical in educating patients, families, and caregivers. The nurse educates the patient and his or her support system on diagnosis and prognosis. They also teach the management of symptoms and the treatment for care.


A nurse is an advocate, negotiator, and facilitator. Nurses are change agents and provide vanguard care to patients. They put patient safety at the forefront of care. They coordinate multidisciplinary care teams, represent the patient, and implement a plan of care with the patient's best interests as the focus.


A nurse is a trusted counselor and confidant. Nurses listen, protect, comfort, and build relationships with patients. Many times, the nurse has a better relationship with the patient than any other health care provider has.


A nurse is a translator. Nurses interpret medical terminology, diagnoses, procedures, instructions, and treatment plans for the patient. Nurses are catalysts to patients' well-being.


Not only are nurses amazing individuals, but according to the American Nurses Association (2018), nurses have ranked as the number one trusted profession for 15 years. This extraordinary reputation has been earned by nurses who work in hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and physicians' offices. These are nurses who have direct patient contact, deliver the highest quality of care, and support patients, families, and caregivers.


When I look around the International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses (ISPAN), I am constantly amazed by the achievements of our own nurse members: those working in university or community hospitals who are at the bedside or in administration; those publishing plastic reconstruction or aesthetic nursing practice research; those educating the next generation of plastic and aesthetic nurses; and those providing optimal patient care in medical offices. Think about it-patients and patient care are at the core of what we all do and the reason why nurses are among the most valued members of health care.


During my travels, many times people will ask, "What do you do for a living?" When I proudly say, "I am a nurse," these same individuals' eyes get wide and a smile appears. Without skipping a beat, and with an incredulous voice, they perpetually say, "If it was not for the nurse at my doctor's office, I do not know where I would be today!"


Comments like those make me stand tall. And, it is those same comments that recently prompted me to stop to reflect and think of ISPAN's own plastic and aesthetic office-based nurses, and the consequent unsung value they bring to our industry.


When one considers how much significance the public places on nurses in general, and office nurses specifically, I am pleasantly amazed! To think about office-based nurses and the many hats they wear is nothing short of astounding! They are advocate, educator, counselor, confidant, encourager, and skilled provider of treatment and support to each patient who walks into a physician's office. The office-based nurse balances administrative-, physician-, and staff-related duties alongside the art and science of nursing. And how they become the lifeline between the medical practice and families, and even communities, is nothing short of astonishing.


Thinking a bit further-have you ever gone to a physician (for anything, not necessarily a plastic procedure) and relied on the nurse for comfort, for advice, or simply to answer personal questions? The answer is a resounding yes-for everyone reading this article. Now, on that same accord, think about having our own specialty in mind. Think about the vast number of plastic surgery procedures performed in 1 year. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (2017) reported 17.5 million procedures completed last year-17.5 million! That means 17.5 million procedures had patients with questions and fears; 17.5 million nervous check-ins at a plastic surgeon's office; 17.5 million history and physical assessments taken before the surgeon began his or her work; 17.5 million surgeons needing a right hand during a nonsurgical or surgical intervention, procedure, or treatment; 17.5 million patients emerging from a procedure wanting to know how it went-you get the point.


This 17.5 million procedures' statistic represents a 2% increase from the year prior, which was also 2% higher than the year before that. We can safely anticipate this rising trend to continue for years to come, meaning that office nurses will only continue to have a greater volume of patients to care for, which ultimately translates into a greater influence and trust.


Think about what the continual rise in plastic and aesthetic procedures means to the patient-nurse relationship. The plastic and/or aesthetic office-based nurse will provide best practice nursing care to an increasingly larger population by conducting patient assessments, administering treatment and medications, performing diagnostic tests, and arranging patient care follow-up. Furthermore, these nurses will coordinate optimal patient care by scheduling more surgical and nonsurgical procedures, providing patient education, and acting as a liaison with family members, patient support systems, and other organizations.


As we can readily see in the plastic and aesthetic industry arena, nurses are taking on additional nursing practice and patient care responsibilities through intercollaboration with physicians, more so than ever before. In the past, there seemed to be a clear distinction between nurses and physicians-almost as if they operated individually and separate, yet in the same office. Fortunately, for nurses, physicians, and patients alike, that outdated mindset has changed. In its place is a more inclusive, team-based approach to delivering care. Physicians may be the ones on the team calling the plays, but they heavily rely on their office nurses to make sure these plays are executed. After all, nursing is a trusted profession.


As we continue to consider the art and science of nursing, let us take a few moments to step back and think about why nurses, especially office nurses, are the heart and soul of nursing:


1. Patient care. Why do we, as nurses, do what we do? Because it is our responsibility to care for the whole patient. Without a doubt, nurses working in offices have long established nurse-patient relationships with the most direct hands-on patient care, which is integral to the patient's overall well-being and health.


2. More procedures, more responsibilities. The rise we have seen in plastic surgery and aesthetic procedures over the past few years shows no signs of slowing down. Therefore, the office-based nurse will need to continue to be resourceful, supportive, accommodating, and just as attentive as before-but with even more patients.


3. Trust. The absolute, most critical part of patient care does not come from a textbook or an iPad. It comes from earning the trust of patients so that we can provide them with the essential care they need. Nurses are trusted professionals, and it is because of our care, our compassion, our understanding, our encouragement, and our professionalism that we can earn the patient's trust.


4. Physician intercollaboration. Physicians are increasingly seeing the value of their office nurses and are empowering them with more responsibilities than ever before. This is a win for the physicians, nurses, and patients alike, which translates into more overall health and well-being for each individual patient.


Undoubtedly, as you reflect on our profession, a nurse is not just a nurse. Through my travels, conversations that begin with "I am a nurse" inevitably evolve into strangers singing the accolades of all nurses-especially their physician's nurse. Let it be known that I value all plastic and aesthetic nurses! I am vastly proud to represent every specialty facet of nursing that embodies ISPAN. Although nurses are the lifeline on which so many patients rely, I simply wanted to take a moment and reflect on the conversation that is heard so often-the office-based nurse.




American Nurses Association. (2018). Nurses rank #1 most trusted profession for 15th year in a row. Retrieved from[Context Link]


American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (2017). 2016 Plastic surgery statistics. Retrieved from[Context Link]


Rasmussen College. (2018). 8 reasons why a nurse is not "just a nurse." Retrieved from[Context Link]