Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Nurses Week: Giving Thanks

Well, this is it, folks. This is the week that's set aside for nurses to be praised, thanked and stroked. Gratitude goes a long way in this world, so this is a week when clear and heartfelt gratitude for nurses can be found in many places, both expected and unexpected.

At work, gifts for Nurses Week can be somewhat disappointing--like mugs, pens, flowers, candy, stethoscope clips, and other material acknowledgments.

However, the best gifts of Nurses Week often come in non-material form--like sincere expressions of thanks, spontaneous hugs, and the ways in which others (nurses and non-nurses alike) communicate their appreciation of who you are and what you do.

The public may not completely understand what we do and what we're capable of. They may even have an outdated picture of who nurses really are. However, when you say the word "nurse", most people will respond to that word very positively, with stories of heroism, dedication, compassion, and kindness.

We nurses are at the bedside, in the doctor's office, in the clinic, and on the street. We care for the rich, the poor, the famous, the infamous and the downtrodden. We provide care on the battlefield, in the homeless shelter, under bridges, in schools, in camps, and even in corporate settings. We are entrepreneurs, employees, executives, teachers and business owners. We are legion.

Nurses Week is a very good time to be kind to yourself. It's a moment to reflect on the reasons that you're a nurse and why you choose to continue in the profession.

And remember that it doesn't need to be all hearts and flowers. Perhaps you're burned out. Perhaps you've seen one code too many, or you've held more dying babies in your arms than you can count. Maybe you cut your teeth on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, and now the only thing you want to do is grow tomatoes and roses. It's all relevant, and it's all important to acknowledge with honesty and clarity of mind.

If you're on your way out of the profession, take a moment to assess the road behind you, giving thanks for the opportunities that came into your life. If you're entering the profession, good for you--we need you! Take care of yourself and preserve your sanity amidst the storm. And if you're on the fence and in need of support, acknowledge that, as well--and then reach out.

This Nurses Week, welcome it all: the sadness, the joy, the sacrifice and the loss. It's all relevant--and it's the reality of who we are.

This week, you can choose to remember them all: those who've died, those who've lived, and those who have simply disappeared from your life.

You can also choose to give thanks for your service, your dedication, and the ways in which nursing has fed you. The banquet has not always been easy to swallow and digest, but a banquet it remains.

Nurses, the table is set before you. There are patients, doctors, other nurses, colleagues, families and strangers. The setting can be wherever you are and whomever you're with. The pay may be adequate, or perhaps it's below par. The conditions may be stellar, or maybe they're less than optimal. Whatever it is, welcome it and acknowledge that this is your reality.

Now, no matter what the situation, thank yourself. You've chosen this for a reason, and your "nurseness" is part and parcel of who you are. Use this Nurses Week to simply let it all in, give thanks for it, and recognize how it has added to your life, magnified the world, and provided a platform from which to operate.

You're a nurse. Thank you. Thank yourself. And continue on.

Happy Nurses Week.
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