The technical expertise required of the surgical nurse can be taught and learnt with comparative ease. Some techniques undoubtedly require skill of a high degree but all can be mastered with certainty. Surgical nursing which relies solely on the application of these purely practical skills, however refined they may be, ignores the responses of the people involved. Such disregard results in a failure to meet the true needs of the patients. It is in the recognition and acceptance of individual needs that the future of surgical nursing must lie. Although the skills necessary to achieve such an aim may be less tangible and more difficult to assimilate, their acquisition is still possible once that obligation is accepted. This extra dimension requires that nurses really see the patients they are trying to help, and listen to what they are actually saying, or are trying to say. Insecurity or inadequacy makes it necessary to avoid communication. Certainty about one’s role combined with a basic ability to recognise both verbal and non-verbal messages will make it possible to communicate more effectively. That the responses may at first be inept has to be accepted. It is the intention, and the will to improve, that are important.
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