Loma Linda University

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Kelly McHan, MPH
Assistant Professor, Nursing - Undergraduate
School of Nursing

Acts of comfort are consistently associated with nursing.  The California Nursing Practice Act partially defines nursing as "those functions, including basic health care...that ensure the safety, comfort, personal hygiene and protection of patients."  I believe that despite today's expanded nursing practice, ever more sophisticated technology and even our well-placed emphasis on evidence-based practice, people experience nursing care most keenly through hands-on comfort measures.

Comfort is the core value that has steered me through diverse nursing roles - from home care to the Board of Registered Nursing - as my various nursing positions brought more independence and responsibility.  As I contemplate where I've been, what I've done and where I am now I realize that my personal mission statement, which I formulated while a hospice nurse in the 1990s, is still relevant for me; "to bring comfort and well-being to all whom God calls me to serve." 

Today as a nursing instructor I remain passionate about the relationship between comfort and hands-on nursing care.  I have found that students generally embrace the idea of pain management – especially through pharmacologic means - as a pertinent nursing role but they tend to overlook nondrug, independent, nursing specific comfort measures.  Furthermore, nursing students often do not perceive basic hands-on nursing tasks as the practice of nursing.  I have heard students speak disparagingly of direct care as “aid work;” unpleasant tasks to be delegated to someone else.  I am committed to elevating the importance of hands-on nursing care for a new generation of nurses.  I hope to inspire students to value nursing comfort measures as much as they value advanced technology and academic and administrative nursing roles, backed by full scientific, evidence-based data.