Thursday, May 07, 2015

Nurses Week is Here---Own It!

It's that time of year again, folks, and I want to take this moment to rhapsodize about how amazing I think nurses are.

This month marks 19 years since I graduated from my ADN program at Greenfield Community College in Greenfield, Massachusetts, so it's my 19th Nurses Week. And I was even prouder to earn my BSN from the University of Massachusetts in 2001. I feel great about my career trajectory, and I'm proud of the fact that I've been a member of this nursing tribe for almost two decades. (If you count several years in nursing school, I've already passed that 20-year mark!)

Nurses are remarkable people, and the more than 3 million of us here in the United States alone are a force to be reckoned with. We make up the backbone, the sinew, the lifeblood of the healthcare industry, and we play intrinsic roles in patient care, research, education, community health, public health, and many other areas where our skills can be utilized.

Nurses are teachers, coaches, consultants, entrepreneurs, podcasters, writers, bloggers, artists, business owners, filmmakers, and good people doing good work all over the world.

The public may not completely understand all that we're capable of, and we ourselves are still figuring just how broad and deep our scope of practice truly is. Advanced practice nurses are coming into their own in the 21st century, and you can rest assured that their expanded scope of practice will find them reaching more and more people and communities in the years to come. Legislation is being passed all over the country that grants NPs and DNPs increased autonomy, and this army of skilled practitioners will more than make up for the shortage of primary care physicians that is a reality of our time.

Our profession finds itself in a time of change, rapid technological development, constant advances in medicine and healthcare delivery, and economic stresses that impact our ability to provide the kind of care we believe in. Companies, healthcare providers, facilities, and entire professions need to be nimble, ready to pivot with the winds of change, and nursing has been doing a pretty good job in this regard. Nurses are branching out into entrepreneurship and "out-of-the-box" practice settings, and we have more and more nurses running for office or getting involved on some level in the legislative agenda, whether it be locally, regionally, or nationally.

Nursing will continue to morph and flex as the times continue to change. Be flexible, and make sure that you keep a finger on the pulse of the profession, your ear to the rails of healthcare, and be certain to read the writing on the wall in whatever metaphoric building you inhabit.

My challenge to you this week is to do something nice for yourself. Buy yourself a treat, take yourself to dinner, order that book you've been wanting, or that massage you've been too busy to schedule. Thank yourself for being a nurse, pat yourself on the back, rest on your laurels, and consider the people you've touched, the lives you've saved, the suffering you've assuaged, and the
communities to which you've contributed in so many ways.

Happy Nurses Week from my nurse's heart to yours. Own your "nursesness", and feel the pride that is intrinsic in being a nurse.

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