Each year at this time, we celebrate nurses, but perhaps this year more than any other in recent memory, acknowledging their contributions to society has taken on a bit more gravitas.
“Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion. Remember he is face to face with his enemy all the time.”
So said Florence Nightingale, “the lady with the lamp,” generally regarded as the founder of modern nursing.
Nightingale famously revolutionized care in field hospitals in Turkey during the Crimean War, returning to Britain a hero for dramatically reducing death rates and went to work as a leader in hospital reform at home.
Her understanding of the importance of health statistics also made an important impact on patient care. She was a tireless advocate for continuous improvement.
She is also largely credited with elevating nurses from basically glorified housekeepers to medical professionals.
But it is the philosophy of patient care as demonstrated by the above quote and many others that are foundational to the effectiveness of nurses in not only caring for the physical needs of patients, but also their emotional and psychological needs.
While nurse is now a well-respected and well-paying job, it still takes a very special type of person, one who is compassionate, self-sacrificing, patient and courageous, to even consider the field much less be successful at it in the long term.
Ask yourself if you could do what they do, day in and day out, sometimes for long hours under arduous circumstances dealing with people who are not only sick or injured, but perhaps stressed, afraid and sometimes even angry.
Over the past 14 months we have seen an outpouring of gratitude for the role of nurses as they have steadfastly held the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gratitude is nice, of course, but we should also recognize that the trauma they face has taken a toll on their mental health for many of them.
This week is National Nursing week, chosen to coincide with Nightingale’s birthday on May 12.
Let’s make sure they know they not only have our thanks but also our support and our compassion.