Each year, we celebrate the work of nurses (as well as the birthday of Florence Nightingale) from May 6-12. But we don’t need National Nurses Week to remind us of the amazing work nurses do on a daily basis. Since the stereotype of the nurse as the doctor’s handmaiden is still prevalent today, we decided to investigate the media’s portrayal of nursing and what can be done to reflect more accurately what nurses do and the lives they touch. In our cover story, Erica Patino examines the history of nurses in mainstream media and the steps we can take to level the medical playing field. 

For starters, Susan Wessling highlights the lifetime achievements of five extraordinary nurses who are not satisfied with the status quo. Let them inspire you to be more actively involved in your profession.  Whether you are interested in getting involved in the decision-making process at your hospital or the development of new drugs, there is a niche for you. Margarette Burnette and Christine Hinz explore jobs in hospital planning and pharmaceutics to help you reach new heights in your career. 

Or perhaps your pipedream is to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Wallena Gould interviews six minority CRNAs and student registered nurse anesthetists to help you figure out what it takes to join the specialty that most appeals to male nurses. Although men now comprise nearly 10% of the nursing population—an all-time high—we still have a long way to go before we close the gender gap. June Soto offers strategies for recruiting and retaining male students in nursing programs.

No matter your gender or ethnicity, as a nurse you undoubtedly want to help others. There are still racial disparities across the board when it comes to cancer, and cancer remains a leading cause of death for many minorities. Don’t wait until it’s too late—talk to your patients now about making healthier choices so there isn’t a need to discuss treatment options later. Linda Childers and Dr. Ed James discuss the benefits of screenings and adopting a healthy, active lifestyle to decrease your risk for most types of cancers. 

From Florence Nightingale to Margaret Newman, Denise Gasalberti re-examines the past to contemplate the future of nursing.  The 21st century nurse is by no means limited to the bedside. Learn to be proactive rather than reactive, and the future is yours for the taking.

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