The Role and Function of Nurses

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TheRole and Function of Nurses


TheRole and Function of Nurses

Nursestravel the world together with cross-border doctors to offer medicalservices to patient with dire need of treatment. They are usuallywell trained to handle patients undergoing treatment as their scopeof work pertains[CITATION Pla14 p 59 l 1033 ].Travelling across the borders exposes the nurses to many differentenvironments as well as diseaseconditions. For instance, the war tone zones that risk their livesand the contagious diseases such as Ebola and hepatitis[CITATION Har14 p 720 l 1033 ].The challenges nurses face in undertaking their responsibilities androles in developing countries is worse due to cultural differences,poor infrastructure, insecurity, and few medical practitioners. Evenso, the nurses benefit from the different mission they undertake inthe developing countries[CITATION San13 p 306 l 1033 ].

Thus,the aim of this essay is to evaluate the role and function of nursesin West Africa, and the benefits and challenges that they face whileundertaking their responsibilities in the area.


WestAfrica comprises of Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Niger, Mauritania, Mali,Liberia, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Ghana, Gambia, CapeVerde, Burkina Faso and Benin. The region in the past has incurredmany disease outbreaks that claimed the lives of many people. Themost recent being the Ebola outbreak, which took time to be containedand threatened the economy of most of the West African countries, andthe world as a whole[CITATION Joo14 p 1086 l 1033 ].Mostof the republics in the West Africa are still recovering from civilwar and conflicts, while other nations such as Nigeria still facesconflicts with the Boko Haram militants that interfere with servicedelivery to the people of the countries. West Africa consists of theworld poorest countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The poorcondition in the countries has crippled the health system in thecountry[CITATION Lin07 p 115 l 1033 ].

Despitethe conditions in West Africa countries, many local and foreignnurses work in the region with an aim to provide medical attention.The number of nurses increases in the area during the time of needsuch as during the Ebola outbreak or civil war as the emergencyhumanitarian issue arises. In such a time, there are many odds thatthe nurses have to keep up with to undertake their responsibilitiesproperly. Most of the nurses who operate in the hardship areas areusually the one who have volunteered for the work[CITATION Ack16 p 118 l 1033 ].

Roleand function of nurses

Nursesplay many roles in the areas in which they work. First as skilledpersonnel, nurses train the locals on various aspect of hygiene andtaking care of patients in a way that ensures the well-being of thepatient and at the same time prevent the spreading of diseases(Oelke, et al., 2014, p. 73). For instance, during the outbreak ofEbola in West Africa, one of the vital way through which the diseasewas contained was through educating the locals on symptoms of thedisease and best ways to avoid being infected. They also taughtpatients about their health status and how they can keep themselveshealthy[CITATION Pri14 p 16 l 1033 ].

Nursesalso take care of the patients at health centers and at homes toensure that they are recuperating from their illness. Community-basednurses move around the community ensuring that the locals receive themedical attention they require through a reference from a doctor.People with chronic diseases require these services to stay healthy.Patients who suffer from HIV, cancer, malaria, among others, benefita lot from nurse’s services[CITATION Oel14 p 630 l 1033 ].

Nurseswork as communicators in the field. Coupled with technologicalinnovation and skills, nurses communicate the healthy conditions ofpatients, as well as the disease situation in a certain locality.This information is useful in developing strategies to curb thediseases as well as estimation of the labor force, and medicalfacilities that are required. For example, during the Ebola outbreak,the disease prevalence was gauged by the nurses while undertakingtheir activities in the affected regions[CITATION Har14 p 722 m McG15 p 54 l 1033 ].

Nursesare decision makers while on the field. The nurses assess diseasesituations of the patients, present intervention based on theirunderstanding of the situation and evaluate the outcome of theintervention. In the field, the nurses sometimes are usually the onlymedical practitioner. Thus, they are responsible for making decisionsthat are aimed to save the lives of people.

Somepart of West Africa such as Sierra Leone and the war tone north ofNigeria, the health system is entirely physically challenged. Thereare very few medical practitioners. As such, the nurses play the roleof both doctors and nurses. Even though it is against the ethicalconduct, they are forced to do it because there is no any otheroption[CITATION San13 p 309 l 1033 ].

Lastly,the nurse acts as the patients’ advocate while under his or herprotection. This is because the patients may not be capable of makingthe decision for themselves. The nurse also ensures that the right ofthe patient is respected throughout as accorded in the code ofconduct of all nurses.


Nurseswho operate in West Africa usually get some benefits from thedifferent activities they undertake during the time they operate.First, while on duty, the nurses conduct many activities related tohealth. This exposes the medical practitioners to new experiences andchallenges that ensure they get more experience in their area ofwork. For example, the practitioner who attended the Ebola outbreakin West Africa gained hands-on experience.

Nurse-workis a professional work, which is well paying. Nurses volunteering tomeet the medical demand in West Africa and in the war tone areasusually receive some allowances and salaries. As such, the shortageof medical practitioners creates job opportunities to the qualifiedand willing nurses[CITATION Bau14 p 34 l 1033 ].

Nursesdo have passion in fulfilling their call and practicing theirprofession. Through the working and volunteering in the various areasof West Africa, the nurses often fulfill their passion and put theirskill to use in such hard and challenging environments[CITATION Par14 p 115 l 1033 ].Some of the nurses who work in West African regions are the localcitizens. Through working as nurses, they can help fellow citizenswith health related issues. They are also able to assist indeveloping their country economy through ensuring the population ishealthy[CITATION Hus131 p 224 l 1033 ].


Workingin West Africa poses many challenges to those who work in the area.First, the medical workforce in the West African countries is verylow. Many patients require medical attention. The few availablenurses thus have to serve many people, which result to an overload ofwork that may lead to lowering the quality of services. Moreover,some people may not get any medical attention at all. In someinstances, the nurse will have to play the role of both doctor andnurse, which is against the ethical code of conduct of nurses[CITATION Dal15 p 20 m Bur13 p 201 l 1033 ].

Secondly,the West African countries have poor infrastructures. This becomes achallenge for the nurses to access the remote regions to providemedical support, or to rush a patient to the hospital. Sierra Leoneand other developing countries in West Africa have no well-developedroads, and this gives medical practitioners hard time to communicateand travel[CITATION Bus15 p 31 l 1033 ].

Furthermore,the nurses are always at risk of being contaminated with the diseasesthey control in the site. This is the main challenge that nurses facewhile undertaking their duties in West Africa. For example, duringthe Ebola outbreak in West Africa, many doctors, and nurses wereinfected with the Ebola virus. Some of the nurses and doctors diedfrom the infection[CITATION Bau14 p 34 l 1033 ].


Nursesplay a vital role in ensuring the health of the population of acountry or region is assured. West Africa is one of the regions inthe world that have an outbreak of contagious diseases such as Ebola.Nonetheless, the low medical labor force, poor infrastructure, andcrippled health care system have made it challenging for the peopleto get the desired medical services. The nurses who work in suchareas have many responsibilities. First, they train people, care forthe sick, communicate the health situation, advocate for patients’rights, and give extra services that are out of the scope of theirwork. However, the nurses also benefit from working in the hardshipareas of West Africa. The benefits include getting a job opportunity,putting their skills at work, and adding experience.


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