Gone are the days when a nurse’s sole job was to administer cold compresses and warm words. Today’s nurses are expected to be critical thinkers, decision makers and problem solvers. They are expected to be knowledgeable in policies, practices and procedures. As the world of healthcare continues to evolve, nurses are moving into practitioner roles and taking on new responsibilities for patient care, safety and healing.
This year, as we celebrate Nurses Week, we celebrate the advancement of our profession. We salute the awesome power and responsibility put squarely on the shoulders of our bold nurses. We raise our heads proudly and declare: We hold bachelor’s of science degrees, we hold master’s degrees, we hold PhDs. We are an educated, motivated and powerful source in the fight for our patients’ safety, care, well-being and rights.
But we must never forget our role to comfort, care and cater to our patients. In the high-tech, high-speed world of healthcare, we must remember that it falls to us to ensure patient comfort, be it physical, mental or emotional.
Our patients often meet us under less than desirable circumstances. They are at their weakest, their most scared and their most vulnerable. It is to us they turn for a kind word, a warm touch and, above all, the confidence that they are in good care.
We must always remember to balance our proudly held degrees with an equally important bedside manner.
This Nurses Week, let us revel in that and let us thank the nurse leaders of yesteryear who paved the way for the roles we enjoy today. Let us acknowledge and celebrate how far we have come as healthcare providers, how central our role has become to the patient experience and how educated we are as a profession. Let us declare proudly that we are more than our predecessors could have ever dreamed we would be. Let us take pride in the role of today’s nurse.
Yet, let us also remember that with great power comes great responsibility. Let us not forget that in addition to all we have become, we still remain the voice of comfort, the hand of caring and the face of hope to our patients.
Dr. Pam Fuller is Dean of the University of Phoenix College of Nursing. She is a member of the American Nurses Association, Arizona Nurses Association and National League for Nursing, and a board member with the American Liver Foundation.