This week marks the 40th anniversary of Nursing Assistants Week and brings with it a great time for healthcare teams to reflect on how all the members of a team help it run smoothly.
This year’s theme for National Nursing Assistants Week is “Specialists in the Art of Caring,” and the theme is one that resonates with nursing assistants. Nursing assistants are essential members of the team and often work especially closely with patients who are disabled or elderly and live in long-term care facilities or are in rehabilitation facilities. They often spend their days caring for patients who may have very limited mobility or have severe dementia or other conditions that may prevent them from performing tasks for themselves. The hands-on care they provide helps people feel better and also provides the comfort of companionship.
Many nursing assistants are so devoted to the caregiving role that they will become certified in their field. The National Association for Health Care Assistants is also joining in the celebration by honoring certified nursing assistants who have taken the extra step toward professional development and education to become certified.
With nearly 1.5 million nursing assistants in the national workforce, the field is one that is growing and in need of additional professionals. With a high school diploma, prospective nursing assistants can gain additional training and certification through many local sources including community colleges and often the Red Cross. Nursing assistants have a physically demanding workload. They frequently move people all day long and so have to be especially careful about proper movement, getting help instead of hoping they can lift or move someone, and using available equipment to assist them in the physical tasks of the job.
Despite the rigor of the typical day, nursing assistants are especially devoted to the people in their care and strive to give them understanding and dignity at a time when they are especially vulnerable. The conversations they provide, even if they are one-sided at times, are an important and uplifting part of a patient’s day. Conversations about everything from the day’s weather to the political state of countries half a world away to comparing family traditions, all help take care of the whole patient, not just their physical needs.
This week is a time to call out the nursing assistants in your organization or on your team to thank them for the caring job they are doing. They are an essential part of making a team run, and because of what they do, the licensed nurses and physicians are able to take care of the pressing medical needs of the patient better, knowing the patient is comfortable and their needs have been met.
Honor this important direct care role by saying thank you to the nursing assistants in your organization and by holding events throughout the week to let them feel appreciated. Flowers, gift cards, a surprise coffee and cake or unexpected refreshments for them, and signs marking the week help make the week special, but can also start some important conversations about the essential teamwork and high-quality caregiving that goes on thanks to this important role.
May is a time to celebrate the work of neuroscience nurses across the country. The American Association of Neuroscience Nurses suggests several ways to highlight the work neuroscience nurses do with Neuroscience Nurses Week, but one of the best things is to find out what makes a neuroscience nurse love the job so much.
Shirley Ansari, BSN, RN, CNRN, and a nurse in The Johns Hopkins Hospital Neuroscience Acute Care Unit, says her journey to becoming a neuroscience nurse was not planned, but has given her professional challenges and personal satisfaction for her entire career.
“I became a registered nurse (RN) in 1984 and finished my nursing training in Mumbai, India,” Ansari says. “As a new RN, I was assigned to the neuroscience unit because the unit was short-staffed at the time. At the time, I had a limited knowledge of how to take care of neurological and neurosurgical patients.”
As a new nurse, Ansari says neuroscience nursing was challenging simply because the patients in her care had complex needs and were all quite varied. The pace was fast and care situations were changing constantly.
“Nevertheless,” she says, “with the help of senior nurses and their expertise, I was able to learn a lot and found it very motivating to deal with patients who suffered from a wide variety of brain and nervous system disorders.”
Because neuroscience nurses work with patients who are often in acute situations, they have to be highly resourceful both technically and emotionally. “As a neuroscience nurse, one should have the capability to deal with critical situations by being empathetic towards the patient as well as being simultaneously alert and attentive to the details,” Ansari says.
Because of their patients’ care needs, neuroscience nurses have to walk a fine line between motivating patients to do the work they might need to do and understanding what limitations they have at that moment. “My approach always involves a high level of calm and patience as many of these patients are not able to function normally due to their impaired cognitive function,” says Ansari.
The complex conditions and the rapidly changing environment means neuroscience nurses have to be ready to constantly take in new information and new developments but remain focused and steady. They will use all their nursing skills and develop strong communications skills that will work effectively within a team in a high pressure environment.
When thinking about advice to offer nurses considering this branch of nursing, she says well-rounded capabilities are essential. “They should have a high level of understanding to grasp what is happening with their patients and should be able to assess quickly and effectively in order to administer the proper type of care,” she says. “They should be able to communicate and delegate efficiently in order to deal with emergent situations. Lastly, they should be willing to work in a high stress situation by maintaining proficiency and composure.”
For Ansari, a career in neuroscience nursing brings many benefits, especially when she can see the progress of patients in her care. “Being able to facilitate and witness a patient’s recovery from initial treatment and rehab to having a more fruitful quality of life with their families is extremely rewarding,” she says.
As with many areas of nursing, Ansari says the constant change keeps her job fresh every day. “To this day, [the diverse work] is one of primary aspects of neuroscience nursing that I truly enjoy and find completely gratifying,” Ansari says. “The ability to learn something new amidst changing and challenging situations keeps me engaged, interested, and motivated in my work every single day.”
May 14 to 20 marks the American Health Care Association’s National Nursing Home Week to honor the many types of nursing care provided in these skilled nursing care facilities.
The 2017 theme, “The Spirit of America” highlights the bonds that bring together all the people in nursing homes—whether it’s staff, volunteers, families, wider community members, friends, or residents. Each person brings a different background, varied reasons for walking through the doors, and wide-ranging life experiences, but the community they form is like the American spirit so many of us treasure.
Since 1967, the AHCA has used National Nursing Home Association Week to celebrate these skilled nursing care facilities and the essential care they offer to elderly or disabled people. But, as anyone who has ever worked in or visited a nursing home facility knows, the care given here has a wide impact that expands to include the loved ones of residents and the larger community.
If you want to join in on celebrating this week or if you work in one of these facilities, check to see what’s being offered. If there are any events to honor the week in your local community or where you work, try to participate in some way.
If you can’t find anything going on, propose a way to mark the week by honoring the staff and visitors with flowers, food, or even a small reception where everyone can come together. With so many stories under one roof, there are bound to be common experiences to share and new stories and situations that everyone can learn about. And don’t forget the power of social media! Give a shout out on Twitter (#NNHW), Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram to let others know of the important work and caring that goes on in skilled nursing care facilities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of 2014, 1.4 million Americans lived in nursing home facilities. And with services ranging from long-term care to rehabilitative care to hospice care, the range of skills provided in these settings is extensive. Some people live in skilled nursing care facilities while others are only there for a short time to recover from illness or surgery. But all share in the same spirit of working closely and learning from each other.
According to the AHCA’s website, as “the nation’s largest association of long term and post-acute care providers, AHCA advocates for quality care and services for frail, elderly, and disabled Americans. Our members provide essential care to approximately one million individuals in over 13,400 not-for-profit and proprietary member facilities.”
If you work in a nursing home, celebrate all you and your colleagues do this week. And take the time to honor the residents and the people you care for. Sharing stories is often one of the best ways to learn about those around you.
Each year, National Nurses Week brings celebrations across the United States. But within that week is an important reminder of the work that nurses do across the globe, under varying conditions, with dramatically different equipment, but with the same steely determination to protect the health of the people they care for.
This year, International Nurses’ Day is celebrated on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Nightingale, as many know, is considered an early healthcare innovator who founded modern nursing practices and helped shape nursing to such an extent that her influence remains to this day. Nightingale’s passion for aiding the ill and injured and keeping nursing practices focused on sanitation helped saves lives of those in her care and countless lives today.
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) sponsors the day and has designated this year’s theme as “Nurses: A Voice to Lead, Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” Nurses around the world can participate and unite their nursing voices by using the hashtags #VoiceToLead and #IND2017 in their social media posts.
The SDGs are a collection of more than 17 goals that impact nurses and the care they provide. The health inequities experienced by people around the world result from a mix of factors, but all impact the sustainable development issues facing nurses today. The issues range from ending poverty (that’s goal number one) to improving health and education and fighting climate change.
In honor of International Nurses’ Day, which debuted in 1965, the ICN is providing case studies from nurses across the globe—for instance there’s the story about addressing COPD in China to reducing the HIV stigma in Zambia.
For nurses who are interested in finding out more or adding their voice to the international nursing community, a Resources and Evidence toolkit is available for download.
According to the International Council of Nurses website, the organization “is a federation of more than 130 national nurses associations representing the millions of nurses worldwide. Operated by nurses and leading nursing internationally, ICN works to ensure quality care for all and sound health policies globally.”
Whether it’s a child who fell on the playground or a teen who is undergoing cancer treatment, school nurses see it all. As children are able to attend school with more and increasingly complex medical conditions, school nurses are on the front lines of monitoring, assisting, and advocating for schoolchildren across the nation.
So on May 10, National School Nurse Day, take a few moments to thank a school nurse in your life or in your community. The theme this year is “Healthy Nurse, Healthy Students” to highlight how much school nurses do to improve the health within their communities and how they are excellent and inspiring role models for the students and families who rely on their care.
“The needs of our students are increasing daily and school nurses want to meet those needs so that students have the opportunity to succeed in the classroom to prepare for a healthy and successful future,” says Beth Mattey, MSN, RN, NCSN, and president of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) which created National School Nurse Day in 1972. “School nurses are on the front lines of population health.”
It’s no secret that kids who are healthy in body and mind will perform better in school and have more engaging and satisfying school experiences. “Schools have an energy and vitality about them where children and teens bring untapped potential,” says Mattey. A school nurse is there to offer medical care, but is often a comfort, a cheerleader, a family advocate, and a health care provider experienced with complex and diverse healthcare conditions and needs.
“School nurses have long provided a hidden health care, often working as the only health care provider in the education setting,” says Mattey. “As the needs of our students are growing, the contribution school nurses bring to health AND education of students as a member of the health care team and the education team is increasingly being recognized and valued.”
According to Mattey, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that the incidence of children with chronic health conditions are increasing. The Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health says 27.3 percent of children ages 6 to 11 and 30.8 percent of teens age 12 to 17 have a chronic health condition. And for many children, their health struggles are compounded by additional factors. “Across the nation, fifteen million children live in poverty,” she says, “and almost 46 million children receive supplemental nutrition assistance. “
And with so many shifting factors, school nurses are seeing steep increases in issues like anxiety than did school nurses of a couple of generations ago. Mattey explains how almost 23 percent of children have been exposed to two or more adverse childhood events which can affect one’s physical and mental health. “School nurses report they spend at least 32 percent of their time addressing mental health needs of students,” says Mattey.
And as laying a foundation for a healthy life begins during the school years, Mattey says this is a great time to help influence healthy choices and behaviors. “For 14 years I worked with teens in our high school to reduce the use of tobacco,” she says. “We developed posters and shared the message across the state through music. We reduced tobacco use by 51 percent in our high school.” Other school nurses work with students in physical activity programs and programs to promote healthy eating.
“It is incredibly fulfilling when we help a child and family manage a chronic health condition such as asthma, diabetes, or allergies and remain in school,” says Mattey. “School nurses want students healthy, safe, and ready to learn.”
And with school nurses in so many communities, their membership has a powerful base. NASN has 16,000 members in 50 affiliates and overseas who advocate for school children, their communities, and the national health of children.
On National School Nurse Day, acknowledging the complex and essential role school nurses play in both an educational and a community setting is important. “On May 10, school nurses will continue to care for students as they always do,” says Mattey. “This day perhaps, we will walk with an extra spring in our step knowing that the knowledge and expertise we bring to our students and community makes a difference in the lives of our students every day.”
Get ready to kick off National Nurses Week! This annual event to recognize the compassionate and critical work nurses perform and to celebrate the profession begins tomorrow, May 6 and lasts until May 12.
The week provides time to honor the role of nurses in their own lives and in the collective national landscape.
This year’s theme: Nursing: The Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit reflects the American Nurses Association’s designation of 2017 as the Year of the Healthy Nurse. The theme points to the delicate and essential equilibrium that nurses must find to successfully thrive in such a distinctly unique profession.
National Nurses Week is marked throughout the nation in all kinds of settings—from healthcare settings to nursing schools.
Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing Dean Linda Norman says the week offers a chance to celebrate nurses and to also take a look at where the profession is going.
Vanderbilt, which has both a medical center and a nursing school, has events including a blessing of the hands and a state of nursing address by the chief nursing officer. There are awards to recognize outstanding nurses and a dean’s diversity lecture that will examine how the nursing profession as a whole can meet the needs of a diverse population.
At the nursing school, where more than 900 students take classes, there will be several versions of birthday parties for Florence Nightingale whose birthday is marked every May 12.
“We are having an ice cream social for the students just to say, ‘We’re glad you’ve chosen nursing and this is our way of celebrating nurses,’” says Norman.
Here are a few ideas to celebrate National Nurses Week either with colleagues, family, friends, or by yourself:
Have a party
Nurses deserve to have someone else take care of them, so having a reception at work or meeting for lunch with your nurse friends offers time to stop and celebrate.
If you supervise other nurses, be sure to thank them for all they do. They are the front lines of patient care and perform superhuman feats each day.
Spread the word about the ANA’s free webinar “A Nurse’s Guide to Preventing Compassion Fatigue, Moral Distress, and Burnout” on May 10 at 1 pm EDT (registration closes on May 9 at 7 pm EDT).
Between May 12 and May 17, you may also view the free webinar recording of “Empathy 101: How to Care for Yourself While Emotionally Supporting Others,” offered by Nurse.com at http://ce.nurse.com/course/Web332 . The webinar features Kati Kleber, BSN, RN, CCRN.
As Norman says, the week also offers a time for nurses to consider the journey that brought them to where they are. Norman says she is frequently reminded of her own journey.
“It is a time for us to reflect on the choice we made back when we were deciding on our profession,” she says. “To be able to try to meet the needs of others—that’s a privilege. To teach others how to do that—that’s an even bigger privilege.”