The work that nurses do often goes unrewarded and unrecognized. If everyone showed the appreciation that’s truly due to these heroes of the hospital, our calendars would say it’s “Thank Your Nurse Day” every day of the year.
Patients and healthcare organizations get the most direct benefit from the diligent work of nurses. But acts of compassion and dedication throughout the nursing profession also make the world a better place in other ways. These are some of our favorite portraits of nurses leading extraordinary lives, both in and out of their scrubs.
As the people on the front line of patient care, nurses hear the calls for help that others overlook. In her career, nurse Trisha Gordon Bear found an underserved patient population: deaf mothers-to-be and deaf families with young kids. Many had little access to the same type of perinatal education available to the hearing population, and education on the issues specific to deaf parents were even harder to come by. Bear stepped up to fill this need by founding the Perinatal Foundation for the Deaf in California.
Wendy Rose, RN, is making a difference beyond the walls of her workplace by sharing what she’s learned as a mom raising a child with celiac disease. Wendy and her daughter both have this severe gluten intolerance. There’s no medical treatment or cure for this condition; only lifestyle and dietary changes to avoid gluten will help. That’s a lot more challenging than it sounds, and Wendy is dedicating her spare time to blogging on the topic to help other families with celiac disease live a healthy, symptom-free life.
Longtime nurse Kelly Clemings acts as an advocate for the dead after completing rigorous training to become a forensic nurse. Clemings has been instrumental in investigating many suspicious deaths in her position at the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office. She’s even worked on famous cases like that of notorious serial killer Anthony Sowell. She’s not in it to become famous or get her own TV show; her number one goal is to prevent future deaths through the information she uncovers.
Three siblings are taking their skills around the world on service missions to countries where they are desperately needed. Leon, Lynn and LouAnn Randall are all registered nurses who provide medical services to children in locations like Liberia through Children’s Surgery International.
Nurses with a Cause
When Christine Collins isn’t busy saving lives, she’s saving the planet. This OR nurse decided that the blue plastic wrapping used to cover sterilized equipment shouldn’t be ending up in the trash. Through the program Collins instigated at Kaiser Permanente’s Roseville Medical Center in California, she and her colleagues recycled 32,500 pounds of blue wrap last year. She’s now busy getting other facilities involved to increase the amount of plastic that gets recycled.
Linda Sarna (RN, oncology nursing specialist and Doctor of Nursing Science) is concerned about the health of her fellow nurses as much as she is about her patients. A high percentage of nurses still smoke cigarettes—even though they know the health risks. It’s just really hard to quit. Dr. Sarna is making it her goal to help nurses stop smoking through her Tobacco Free Nurses Initiative.
Helping some of society’s most vulnerable citizens achieve their dreams is what inspires Carolyn Green, RN, to deliver her best every day. She’s the coordinator of the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Program at Overton Brooks Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Shreveport, La. Green helped a local nonprofit obtain a $1 million grant to provide housing for 56 working and student veterans. Green also teamed with correctional facilities to help officials create a seamless transition into community living for veterans being prepared for release. With Operation Stand Down, she arranges the volunteers and the donation of clothing, food, medical care and haircuts, as well as social and counseling services. In 2010 alone, the event served 1,000 homeless individuals, aided by Green’s ability to marshal resources and garner community support.
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