Thursday, May 16, 2013

Nurses Week--Or Nurses Year?

Last week, we celebrated Nurses Week, and many of us acknowledged our pride in this awesome profession of ours. Some of us were even on the receiving end of others' gratitude in the form of gifts from our employers, colleagues, friends or family members. But why do we only get to acknowledge ourselves once a year?
Nurses Week is a wonderful moment to take stock of our profession and celebrate ourselves. It's also an opportunity for others to "pause for the cause" and consider nurses' collective and individual contributions to society.

For myself, one of my two employers sent me a pin and a letter. I looked at the pin, read the letter, and then recycled both since neither felt terribly sincere or authentic to me. My other employer failed to acknowledge Nurses Week altogether. Meanwhile, my wife gave me a card, mentioned Nurses Week numerous times and told me how proud she is of me on more than one occasion. That meant more than any gift could ever mean.

So, if we only really take the time to give thanks for our profession and our colleagues during one week of every year, what happens during the other fifty-one weeks of the year? Do we forget how hard we work? Do we just go about our business of nursing without a second thought about how important our work is and how crucial we are to the nationwide--and dare I say worldwide--healthcare infrastructure?

As a professional nurse blogger, coach, writer, and advocate for the nursing profession, I feel that nurses need consistent and frequent recognition of their services. Of course, many others deserve recognition, as well--from garment workers to teachers, daycare providers, firefighters and telephone operators--but my main concern is the nursing profession and its overall health and well-being. Of course, these other professions deserve credit, as well, but my personal "soap box" is nursing-centric, and I make no apology for that.

Nursing is a stressful profession, and nurses have their hands in many healthcare pots. We care for the sick, the young, the dying, and those being born. We carry doctors' orders to fruition, and in some cases, we even practice independently, without the supervision of a doctor. As I've said before, nurses are legion, and we deserve and warrant consistent recognition and acknowledgment.

Having said that, we don't necessarily need recognition from the outside since we can easily give it to ourselves. Considering that idea, even though Nurses Week is over and done with until 2014, why not make this Nurses Year? Then again, why not make every year Nurses Year? As the population ages, our importance will only grow, and we will be there--ready and willing to serve--as the growing pains continue.

So, Happy Nurses Year, and let's all pat ourselves on the back, wash our hands, and continue our crucial work that makes the healthcare world go around.

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