As National Nurses Week swings around yet again, one expects to feel appreciated in some way. For some of us, it means a free meal in the cafeteria, a gift with the hospital logo on it or a “Happy Nurses Week” ad in the paper. Administrators and management smiling at you for a change…
For most of us, the one week observance is quaint and expected, while at the same time feels a bit awkward given all of the “niceness” that seems to pop-up and, just as quickly, disappear when the week is over.
But what about the REST of the year?
Most hardcore clinicians, myself included, will tell you that the much-hyped appreciation of Nurses Week does little to make them feel valued. Let’s face it: We chose a very difficult career that’s hard on the body and the soul. Relationships suffer and we have anything BUT normal work schedules. How many times have we heard someone say: “I don’t know HOW you do it–I could NEVER be a nurse!”
Nurses can tell you true stories that are so amazing, wild, incredible and ridiculous that no one could possibly make them up. No fiction writer could imagine the things we see and do on a regular basis. No movie or TV show can come close to the reality of life nurses know.
We are the ones who are privileged to be present at all stages of the lifespan. To be there for families when they experience joy as well as tragedy. To be willing and able to break the rules for the sake of making our patients’ quality of life better, even if just for a few hours.
Nurses make a difference…for somebody, in some place, at some point in their life’s journey.
Whether it is in a modern hospital, on vacation, in a shack with no supplies or running water, in a desert aid station, on a ship, in a POW or concentration camp, on board a jetliner over the ocean, in a rural health clinic, or (fill in your own blank space) wherever there are human beings in need, there have been and always will be nurses.
Doing the work. Making it better. Every hour of every day. 52 weeks a year.
Knowing that we made a difference at the end of the shift just by being there for someone.
And THAT is why we do what we do!
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched–they must be felt with the heart (Helen Keller).