Nursing Notes

May 6, 2010

Nurses Week, Past & Present

National Nurse’s Week begins tomorrow, May 6th and goes until May 12th, which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale.  Nurses all around the world will be honored by their hospitals, the doctors they work for in clinics, and the management will pass out food and gifts to mark this week as significant.

I don’t speak for anyone but myself, but don’t give me a new mug with the hospital logo on it or a bag with the logo on it.  Since I don’t work days, I usually miss the food because administration only works during the day time.

What I want instead of trinkets is a voice.  I want to have some say in how I do my job and how I care for my patients.  I want to be respected for my knowledge of my patients’ and their families’ needs.  I want to have the right to say, “I can only take care of 5 patients today because two of them are critically ill and will need constant attention.”

I want to be allowed to actually nurse, not spend most of my time searching for supplies, answering phones because we don’t have a clerk, talking to other departments that cannot be bothered to come to the floor to do their own  work, and let’s not forget all the documentation that MUST be done to protect me from lawsuits.  All I want is to take care of my patients the way I, myself, want to be taken care of when I am ill.  Is that really too much to ask?

This article asks “What would Florence Nightingale think about nursing now?” I think she would be saddened and appalled at what nursing now involves.  But read this article and see if you agree with this author.

What would Florence Nightingale think of the profession today?

By Pat Veitenthal, BSN, RN

Congratulations! You made it to another Nurses Week!

As we celebrate our profession from May 6 to 12, it is time to reflect. Not on the mugs or key chains, or notes, or ice cream socials and free pizza from our employers, but on who and what we collectively are. We are, after all, members of a very exclusive society and we should definitely embrace that.

Putting it in demographic perspective, current U.S. population estimates say there are 305 million people in our country, and only 1.09 percent of us are working as RNs or LP/VNs.

That’s pretty amazing, and it’s what makes us so exclusive. That and the fact the only people on earth who actually understand what it is we do are other nurses.

Recent History

I wonder how much you actually know about Nurses Week? I strongly encourage you to research its history, but let me get you started. In February 1982, a joint resolution by Congress designated May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses,” and in March of that same year, President Ronald Reagan signed the official proclamation.

It wasn’t until 1990 that the American Nurses Association board of directors expanded it to a week-long celebration. We do like good long celebrations, don’t we! Work hard, play hard.

But as we celebrate, let’s also take time to remember our beginnings and Florence Nightingale, who, by the way, has now been dead for 100 years this year, and whose birthday, May 12, marks the end of Nurses Week.

I wonder what Florence would think about the current state of nursing? […]

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1 Comment »

  1. Shirley, I believe your thoughts on Nurses Week speak for many of us. I know I couldn’t agree with you more! I have linked this article on my blog.


    Comment by kitchrn — May 7, 2010 @ 3:48 am | Reply

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