National Nurses Week is the time when nurses are honored and recognized for the incredible work they do and the countless lives they change. And while professional nurses are on the front lines, the week is a great time for student nurses to feel partnership with their more seasoned colleagues.
“Nurses spend a lot of time to develop a professional identity,” says Gayle Timmerman, PhD, RN, CNS, FAAN and associate dean of academic affairs and associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing. “It’s no small thing to ask of them – to take off their old identity and become something new. To take on an identity as a professional nurse. National Nurses Week helps them focus on honoring the commitment to go through this process.”
National Nurses Week helps nursing students reinforce their resolve in becoming part of a profession that requires so much rigorous training and work and takes a lot of sacrifice. “We want them to take pride in this profession that gives so much to others,” says Dr. Timmerman.
With a week to celebrate all the ways nurses impact lives, student nurses can start to think about their own place in their new profession. “They get to hear some compelling stories of how important a nurse’s care is in the life of someone,” says Dr. Timmerman. “They realize that will be them someday.”
Hearing the amazing stories about established nurses and talking with other student nurses is inspiring. “If you’re not a nurse, you just don’t have a clue about the work or the things we have to do, or the ways you can impact someone,” she says. It also shows the students the power of their chosen profession. “I’d like to never hear the statement, ‘I am just a nurse,’” says Dr. Timmerman.
The University of Texas at Austin’s nursing school will celebrate both National Nurses Week and Florence Nightingale’s 195th birthday with a celebratory reception Wednesday afternoon for nurses, students, alumni, and supporters. “Bringing all the nursing students together shows how their dedication is appreciated and shows them their sacrifices will be worth it,” says Dr. Timmerman. “It gives them a glimpse into how the profession is, and they are rising to the challenge.”
As for Dr. Timmerman, she likes the idea of National Nurses Week to increase the awareness of the profession and the pride nurses take in all they do. “Nursing isn’t just a job or a profession,” she says. “It’s a way of thinking and a way of life.”