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Our favorite tributes to nurses

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There are few things nurses would love to have more than better salaries, good working conditions and genuine appreciation. While the general public may not be able to do much about the salaries and working conditions, they can—and often do—play a big part in helping nurses feel good about their work. And that can make all the difference in the world to a nurse.

Radio Personality Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor, of public radio “A Prairie Home Companion” fame, spent four days in a hospital after experiencing a minor stroke. This life-changing episode encouraged him to write about his encounters with the nurses who cared for him and to invite nurses to participate in his radio show. In an article published in the spring issue of Scrubs Magazine, Keillor wrote, “Nurses are smart and brisk and utterly capable. They bring some humor into the situation.” Then Keillor affectionately recalled a nurse’s charming manner as she put a wristband on him and joked, “Care for some jewelry?” Support from people like Keillor helps raise the profile of nurses. We’ve compiled a series of tributes Keillor has made to nurses over the years so that you can easily hear these snippets from his radio shows.

President Barack Obama

President Obama recognized the importance of nurses during an Internet town-hall meeting in March 2009, according to the Chicago Tribune. When his daughter Sasha was only three months old, she developed meningitis. Of course, she had to undergo the many tests involved in diagnosing the condition, and President Obama praised the nurses for the support they provided during that stressful time. The experience, he said, allowed him to see what nurses do and helped him understand that nurses need a voice in healthcare.

Recording Artist “Country Joe” McDonald

Nurses also have a champion in singer Country Joe McDonald, who is also cofounder of the 1960s rock group Country Joe & the Fish. McDonald knows about nurses (he married one!). He’s created a 50-minute presentation, “Tribute to Florence Nightingale and Nursing,” which includes several original songs and stories. McDonald’s interest in Ms. Nightingale flourished after he met Vietnam War nurse Lynda Van Devanter in 1981. She was, according to him, the first to speak out for women in the military. You can read about the tribute on Country Joe’s Web site (

Lyrics from “The Girl Next Door (Combat Nurse)”

She grew up in America, just the girl next door
Never thought to question what we were fighting for
They sent her off to war and showed her death and pain
And the girl next door will never be the same.

Lyrics from “Thank the Nurse”

Thank the Nurse that’s nursing you.
The one that nursed you through.
Thank the Nurse that’s nursing you,
For saving your life….for saving your life..

Volunteer Edward J. Dee

You don’t need to be a celebrity to publicly appreciate nurses. Edward J. Dee is a volunteer at Sisters Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y. He wrote a lovely tribute to nurses, published in the opinion section of the Buffalo News on April 24, 2010. In “Dedicated nurses are unsung heroes,” Dee shared how he sees the nurses and their work. He wrote of their compassion and professionalism, and the responsibility they hold. “I am privileged to see them at work and am totally in awe of these dedicated women and men. I know firsthand what they do. I see it every week at Sisters Hospital in Buffalo, where I volunteer. Next time you are in a position to thank a nurse, please do,” he wrote. What a pleasure it is to read an unsolicited affirmation like Dee’s.

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Marijke Durning

Marijke is a professional writer who began her working career as a registered nurse over 25 years ago. After working in clinical areas ranging from rehab to intensive care, as a floor nurse to a supervisor, she found she could combine her extensive health knowledge with her love of writing. Although she has been published in a wide variety of publications for professionals and the general public, her passion is writing for the every day person to promote health literacy.

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