One of my earliest memories of my mother taking care of me was when I was ill with the mumps. We were about ready to travel to my grandmother’s house and I woke up with all the symptoms and Mom took my temperature, gently placed the washcloth against my feverish forehead, made Rice Krispy cookies for me and, called herself my Florence Nightingale. I had no earthly idea who Florence Nightingale was, but boy, did she have a great name!
In 1954, to mark the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to treat wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, Representative Frances Payne Bolton (Ohio), an advocate for nursing and public health, introduced the first National Nurses Week.
In 1974, May 12th became the official International Nurse Day by the International Council of Nurses and then, in the early 1990’s, the American Nurses Association Board of Directors expanded the recognition of nurse’s contributions to community and national health to a week-long event, from May 6th to May 12th.
A month ago, I tore my meniscus in my knee and had to have a quick surgery, only four days after my son had ACL surgery. As luck would have it, we both were able to be assigned to Jen, our nurse. Jen not only took care of my son, she joked with him, put him at ease and the two of them had the recovery room laughing. And four days later, she recognized me and actually hugged me! I was so happy to see her that I gave little thought to the surgery. THAT’S what the nursing profession does to us: Nurses make us feel safe, they spend time with us, they speak to us in layman’s language (to sometimes translate for our doctor) and they care. Being in a hospital, or in a doctor’s office isn’t always our favorite place to be, but the nurses are there to make us less stressed about the experience. They are our caretakers and our buffers.
So how can we not celebrate them this week? Nursing is the largest group in the health care profession, and in 2011, Americans again voted nurses the most trusted profession in America for the 12th time in 13 years in the annual Gallup poll that ranks professions for their honesty and ethical standards. Nurses’ honesty and ethics were rated “very high” or “high” by 84 percent of poll respondents.
The fact is, nurses are our neighbors, they are our friends, they are a vital part of our community. As the bumper sticker says, “Have you hugged a nurse today?” If you haven’t, at least tell a nurse this week how much they are appreciated.
Hey, Jen, at the Charlotte Surgery Center — thank you for making my surgery experience, and my son’s, a pleasant one! You are a great nurse!