In celebration of International Nurses' Day, I wanted to share why I think nurses are so fabulous. After all, being in the profession for over 40 years, I have seen lots and heard even more. That and having worked in a hospital (burn and trauma unit, orthopedics, labor and delivery), a nursing home; for Tampax and Always as a women’s health expert; and having had the honor of interacting with wonderful nurse colleagues, as well as esteemed national nurse leaders, I feel qualified, in a humble way, to share my perspective. In fact, and not to brag, I refer to myself as a nurse maven – because I am – in a crusty, yet experienced kind of way.
MAY 12 – INTERNATIONAL NURSES DAY
According to the International Council of Nurses, “International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth.” She established the nursing profession with discipline and standards, while ensuring the ill and injured had fresh air and hygiene, saving lives and improving their outcome. Happy birthday Florence!!
By the way, Richard Nixon brought Nursing Day to the USA – what can I say….
WHO ARE TODAY’S NURSES?
According to the American Nurses Association, today there are 3.1 million licensed R.N.s working in the USA. 2.6 million are employed in nursing and 62.2 percent are working in hospitals. The average age of nurses today is 45.5 years and the largest group of employed RNs is: 50 to 54 years old. And, only 6.6 percent are guys. Fifty percent of nurses have a BSN. Also interesting to note is that there are more nurses in the age range of 60 to 65 working today than in 1980. No doubt, there are nurses that fit every demographic there is today!
WHY THE NURSING PROFESSION SHOULD BE HELD IN HIGH ESTEEM
- Every year, International Nursing Day has a theme. This year, the theme is: Closing the Gap: Millennium Development Goals. While the goals are lofty, it seems that they have led to improvements in the world’s poorest people. You have got to love a profession who’s agreed on global priorities are: 1) eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; 2) achieve universal primary education; 3) promote gender equality & empower women; 4) reduce child mortality; 5) improve maternal health; 6) Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases; 7) ensure environmental sustainability; 8) a global partnership for development.
- No matter the tragedy, the risk or the horror, nurses serve. For example, after the Boston Marathon bombing, nurses rushed to hospitals, even if they were off duty, to help care for the injured and did until they had to stop due to exhaustion. Granted there were lots of heroes that day, but nurses were there and were lifesavers too. Along with that, there were nurse’s who carried critically ill babies down New Jersey hospital stairs while supporting their breathing, during Hurricane Sandy, to get them to a facility with electricity. Just in a days work – yep, but that is why nurses are the best. These are only two recent situations and I know there are many more. In the spirit of the celebration, please feel free to share one you may have.
- Some of my best friends are nurses who are serving the public now or have served honorably for decades. They have worked holidays, night shift, weekends, overtime, birthdays, etc. to ensure their patients receive the best care possible. I salute their service: Marcy K., Pia S., Elaine B., Jenn E., Lynn A., Liz L., Lisa M., Mary S., Bonnie B., Javier D., Donna S., Delores S., Chrishaunda V.and on and on and on…
- When it comes to honesty and ethics, nursing is the most trusted profession. According to a November 26 to 29, 2012 Gallup poll survey, 85 percent of the respondents rated Nurses Very High/High in this category. Next were pharmacists at 75% then medical doctors, 70%. Only 10% rated members of congress as honest and ethical above care salespeople at 8%.
- Nurses can do anything. For example, the past Governor of North Carolina is a nurse, nurses are lawyers (Lisa M.), they start businesses, serve in Congress, are mothers, fathers, partners and friends. They teach, write, do research, and have PhDs. Nurses can be fun, can be sad, and have energy, travel, hike, run, vote, protest and appreciate life.
- Nurses have contributed to the largest and longest running women’s health studies. “The Nurses’ Health Studies are among the largest and longest running investigations of factors that influence women’s health. Started in 1976 and expanded in 1989, the information provided by the 238,000 dedicated nurse-participants has led to many new insights on health and disease. While the prevention of cancer is still a primary focus, the study has also produced landmark data on cardiovascular disease, diabetes and many other conditions. Most importantly, these studies have shown that diet, physical activity and other lifestyle factors can powerfully promote better health.” Check out the site, as there is all kinds of great health information available: http://www.channing.harvard.edu/nhs/
I have sincerely been proud to be a part of such an honorable profession. And, I am very optimistic about its future. A wonderful young woman I know, Sarah M., just graduated from Ohio State University’s college of nursing. If she is a glimpse into the future of the profession, nursing will continue to thrive and its standards will be upheld in the best possible way.
To the nurses I know, to those I don’t, to CNAs, and others who are part of the profession, I humbly offer a toast to your service. You are one of the better parts of our world today.
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