5/06/19

National Nurses Week gives these caregivers the spotlight

By Debra Inman

Most of you know a nurse. Some of you know that National Nurses Week is May 6 – 12. Very few of you actually know what nurses do. Whose fault is this? Well, honestly, it lies with the nursing profession.

medical professionals shaking nurse's hand, showing gratitudeNurses are so very bad at explaining what we do and then we minimize our role by replying, "Oh, it was nothing" when we are recognized. As a nurse of 30-plus years, I am as guilty of this as my predecessors were and as the new grads still are today. Ask almost anyone what a nurse does, and they will likely reply "give shots and start IVs."

Let's celebrate Nurses Week by seeing the power of nursing and how nurses touch the lives of so many.

We are: The ones who will hold your hand to comfort you in times of sadness, fear and loss, and hug you in celebration when you have beaten the odds. The ones who will ask, "Is this what the patient really wants?" We go on medical missions for our "vacations." 

We can’t leave our work at the office and spend many sleepless nights wondering how you and your family are doing or questioning if we could have done something better. We are your advocate, and we will risk professional relationships and sometimes even our jobs to ensure you get the best care possible. 

We cry in our cars on the way home because we don't want to break down in front of peers, patients and families. 

We stay educated by reading journals and attending conferences on our day off.  We are the ones whose families celebrate holidays at odd hours and days because patient care knows no time. We are who you can always count on.

We teach:

  • We teach expectant parents how to care for their newborn babies. 
  • We teach the HIV patient their vital medication regimen.
  • We teach family members how to care for each other. We teach teenagers how to manage their newly diagnosed diabetes.
  • We teach med students how to move from books to real patients. We teach stroke and trauma patients how to walk again.
  • We teach health, safety and disease prevention.
  • We teach others to become nurses.

We do: We are at the bedside of the hospitalized patient day and night. We assess you from head to toe while you think we're just making small talk. We notify your physician of a decline in your condition that requires a change in the plan of care.

We can save your life if your heart stops, and we can remove a bandage in a way it doesn't hurt quite so much.

We take calls at your doctor’s office and determine the priority of your needs. We have touched every possible combination of bodily fluids and have eaten lunch moments later. We complete research and improve our practice based on evidence.

We work beside physicians in procedural areas and anticipate their needs before they even ask.

We work in the emergency department, never knowing what will come through the doors, but ready to care for every type and age of patient.

We drive to unfamiliar neighborhoods to care for you in your home. We risk our lives by flying in a helicopter because every minute may mean the difference between life and death for you. We will do everything we can to ensure you remain comfortable and maintain your dignity as you leave this earth.

Obviously, I've just touched the surface of what our noble profession encompasses. I hope you will reach out to a nurse who has made a difference in your life. Celebrate Nurses Week by sharing with them how they have made a difference in your life.