They combine the art and science of patient care with compassion and understanding.
Nurses are educators, advisors, counselors, advocates, and supporters.They handle even the most difficult cases with professionalism, kindness, and empathy. In a hospital or other institutional setting, they are often responsible for a half-dozen or more patients at a time, making sure care plans are followed, medication is administered on time, vital signs are monitored, dressings changed, and patient needs met as quickly as possible.
They deliver care wherever, and whenever it’s needed – from a patient’s comfortable home to a jury-rigged OR in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
This is National Nurses Week, celebrated annually from May 6, (National Nurses Day) through May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing. It’s a time to remind us all to thank these dedicated health professionals for all that they do, everywhere that care is delivered. They are too frequently the unsung heroes of healthcare.
As the American Nurses Association noted, “As nurses, we work in emergency rooms, school based clinics, and homeless shelters, to name a few. We have many roles – from staff nurse to educator to nurse practitioner and nurse researcher – and serve all of them with passion for the profession and with a strong commitment to patient safety.”
Nurses are front-line advocates for improved safety, higher quality patient care, increased training and education, and more autonomy – often putting their own careers on the line in the process. Many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act “would not be possible without our nation’s nurses,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said.
Providing additional education and training for nurses will result in higher quality care for all patients, she added.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced a four-year, $200 million Affordable Care Act demonstration partnering certain hospitals with nursing schools and non-hospital community-based care settings to provide advance practice registered nurses with clinical training to help strengthen primary care across the country.
The Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report puts nurses at the center of health-care change, especially under the Affordable Care Act. The IOM pointed out that “numerous studies have shown that patients fare worse when nurse staffing is inadequate, with poorer health outcomes, more complications, less satisfaction, and greater likelihood of death.”
Nurses deserve to be recognized for all that they do to better the lives of everyone they come into contact with. We shouldn’t need a special week to let them know.
So, have you thanked a nurse today?
Every day thousands of unsung heroes bring caring and compassion to the lives of millions.
Their names are never featured in the headlines, but our world would be a much darker place with out them.”