In the fourth and final part of our interview series featuring our new scholars, we have Berit Ehmann, the winner of Queen Silvia Nursing Award Germany 2017.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and why did you decide to become a nurse?
My name is Berit Ehmann. I am 23 years old and come from the south of Germany near Stuttgart (Backnang). I am in the last months of my training as a geriatric nurse at the Protestant college for elderly care (Evangelische Fachschule für Altenpflege) in Backnang. During my practical phases, I work for Stiftung Altenheime Backnang und Wildberg in the district of Staigacker.
It was at the end of 2014 that I decided to become a nurse, as I did not feel happy in my previous job. Shortly after graduating in insurance and finance, I realised I did not want to work all my life in this profession. At that time, I was particularly interested in accident, life, health and long-term care insurance, but selling financial products was simply not something I wanted to do. However, the lives and fates of many people whom I came in contact with during those cases of damage often touched me personally.
All in all, in my previous job, I felt that I was missing the natural interpersonal way of communicating and actively helping people. Every person deserves a dignified life and should not suffer due to legal, insurance or supply problems. As quoted in Article 1 of the German “Grundgesetz”, “The dignity of man is inviolable; to respect and protect it is the duty of all state power.”
I would especially like to contribute to improving the care of those in need. Likewise, I enjoy the anatomical and medical field and would like to learn something new in this area. Diseases and their diagnostic procedures, and also the nursing background have always interested me. I have always felt very comfortable in biology and anatomy lessons which I would like to learn more about. To care for people and to maintain and possibly improve their lives give me the most pleasure. The nursing profession fulfils me completely as I can expand my eagerness for knowledge in the areas mentioned above and put my knowledge into practice.
Why did you apply for Queen Silvia Nursing Award?
I view Queen Silvia Nursing Award as an ideal opportunity for nursing students to prove their knowledge and experiences. In the past, I often wanted to pass on my ideas but nobody was really interested in them. That was why I participated in Queen Silvia Nursing Award and tried to give my idea a face and a voice. Exchanging feedback and discussing future development of my idea were very important to me, and all these were offered by the scholarship! Therefore, I took part so that the voices and the ideas of nursing students could become louder and more prominent. The platform offers many opportunities to understand what a nursing student thinks and what they are concerned about.
How did you come up with your winning idea?
My idea is to have a more diversified nurse call system in residential homes. My problem with the current “standard” call systems is that when a call is activated by the resident, a nurse has no idea what kind of help the patient needs. For example, the nurse cannot distinguish whether the resident would like a glass of water, assistance while going to the bathroom or if it is a life-threatening situation. This constant uncertainty can cause a lot of stress and disturbance for both the staff and the residents. When a nurse is caring for a resident and a call is activated, she has to assume the worst and leave whatever she is doing and rush to check on the patient and/or the colleague.
Once the nurse is in the resident’s room, another problem occurs with the existing systems. In residential homes, most nurse call systems operate in two colours. A green light indicates the presence of a nurse in the room, and when in combination with a red light, they indicate that the nurse needs help. However, when this emergency is triggered, it is not clear what kind of help the patient and/or present nurse needs. It then often happens that specialized personnel, who comes to support, would still have to get an emergency kit or other life-saving medical devices.
That is why my idea is a new, modified emergency call system. Through the addition of another colour or possibly several colours, this system will indicate whether it is truly a life-threatening situation. Nurses would then have the ability to differentiate how urgent they have to rush to the patient. The benefit would be calmer nurses, less “running around” and happier residents because their interactions with care staff would not be constantly and unnecessarily interrupted. Also, this signal–similar to the fire alarm system–can be automatically connected to the emergency call control centre, thus saving valuable time.
What are your next steps as a QSNA scholar?
I would like to make the award publicly known in Germany through various presence at trade fairs, congresses and interviews. Next up is the ALTENPFLEGE Messe in Hanover at the beginning of March. There, I will be presenting at the QSNA booth throughout the leading industry expo.
I would also like to take advantage of the opportunity and the springboard that QSNA provided me and get to know the other countries. At the same time, I would want to make use of the international internship opportunities at other companies in the healthcare sector.
I want to use this comprehensive insight into the nursing industry to further my vision and to deepen and improve my skills and abilities.
The nursing profession in Germany desperately needs a better image, and more people should be encouraged to choose this beautiful career path. What could be better than being greeted with a happy smile in the morning? To me, the joy of a patient speaks more than a thousand words.
This fourth and final part concludes our interview series featuring our new Queen Silvia Nursing Award 2017 scholars. If you haven’t already read the past interviews, you can find the interviews from our Polish scholar, Finnish scholar and Swedish scholar here.