SHOW LOW - This is the Year of the Nurse. Everyday we hear of their courage and dedication fighting for the lives of COVID-19 patients. But before that battle began the WHO designated 2020 as the year of the nurse and midwife. This is in recognition of the pivotal role these skilled professionals play in caring for populations around the world. Now more than ever, their key role in healthcare is being highlighted.
May 6th was National Nurses day. Most years it is celebrated with gatherings of nursing peers eating together and laughing together. They share an understanding that non-nurses generally don’t know all that nurses do. While the gatherings of nurses will be absent, the camaraderie is stronger than ever.
Quietly and professionally they exercise incredible skill to accurately assess patients’ conditions using observation and technology, intervene when needed with specialized care and procedures, continually evaluate healing progress, maintain absolute accuracy in medication delivery and equipment safety. These are just a few examples of the routine tasks in a day. But the outstanding characteristic of nurses is that they unify this high level of training and education with an even higher level of interpersonal caring. Nurses are specialized in understanding and treating people's responses to illness. This requires going far beyond physical distress. Nurses address mental, spiritual, and emotional distress directly or by recruiting appropriate resources. All in a day’s work.
May 12th was the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. Nightingale is considered the mother of modern nursing. One of her famous quotes is “nature cures…what nursing has to do …is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.” What nurses know is that a key part of that “condition” is the nurse’s presence. This therapeutic presence is also a part of the day’s work.
While Ms. Nightingale towers in the history of the profession with her insistence that nursing care rest upon sound scientific foundations, it is interesting to note she did not believe in the newly discovered “germ theory”. But she absolutely believed that maximum hygiene provided maximum opportunity for healing. She was a vociferous advocate for hand washing. She saved hundreds of British Crimean soldiers’ lives. They were dying more from infection than their wounds. She reduced mortality dramatically through her insistence on a clean environment and clean hands. Her message is still saving lives today as hand washing and hygiene become buzz words for all of us.
So, every year on May 6th, our nation turns its grateful eyes to the profession that Florence Nightingale formalized. We can remember her and the following generations of caring individuals giving their hearts and sometimes their lives to keep us all “in the best condition” for us to heal. We can salute them and then wash our hands in their honor.