The annual celebration of National Nurses Week from May 6-12 highlights and honors the incredible life-saving work nurses do all year round.
As a nurse, this week deserves your attention. There are many ways you can celebrate loudly or ways you can reflect quietly (or both!). Nurses worked hard to get this week recognized—efforts began in 1953 and slowly incorporated a national day of recognition for nurses. In 1993, the week was made official by the American Nurses Association board of directors. It was first officially celebrated in 1994.
The ANA has chosen “4 Million Reasons to Celebrate” as this year’s theme to call attention to the 4 million registered nurses in this country.
Here are a few ideas to keep your feelings of nursing pride going this week:
Revel in the Celebration
This is a big week for nurses around the nation, and it’s a time when you feel solidarity with nurses around the world. Whether or not your organization makes a big occasion out of this week, it’s a good thing to do for yourself. Seek out ways to join in the conversation. Go out to lunch with your colleagues. If you are a manager, order some goodies for your busy staff to have throughout their shifts. Share the week with your family and friends and talk about what your day is like and why you chose nursing.
Check Out What Others Have to Say
Follow Twitter conversations at #NursesWeek. Comment on the Facebook sites of some of the organizations you belong to. Raise awareness as you mark the week. Show your nursing pride and start conversations where you can. Send a letter to the editor about current news relating to nurses—positive or negative.
Nurses never stop learning and this week offers additional opportunities to boost your knowledge in recognition of National Nurses Week. Dial into a webinar offered by the American Nurses Association. You can register for Nurses4Us: Elevating the Profession which will be held May 8 at 1 pm EDT. The webinar, which offers one contact hour, includes a Twitter chat, so follow along or add to the conversation at #NursesWeekLive.
Reflect on Your Nursing Career
Take time this week to think about why you chose nursing as a career. What started you on that path and how has your direction changed? Are you happy with the changes or would you like to get something else from your career? What can you continue doing to gain career satisfaction? What else can you do to improve your nursing skills?
Sometimes reflecting deeply about how your career has made a difference in your life and the lives of others is a morale booster that’s needed in a career where you never slow down.
This week is National Nurses Week. Several businesses across the country are honoring nurses this week with deals and discounts. Nurses have been recognized as the most trusted profession for the past 16 years. As nurses, we play vital roles in disease prevention, health promotion, and treatments, which deserve to be celebrated. It’s important that we raise public awareness of our contributions to society.
There are many things nurses can do to help celebrate National Nurses Week. Here are just three examples:
1. Recognize yourself and others by, for example, a word of “thank you” or a message of gratitude.
Show your appreciation and support for the works nurses do. Importantly, take a moment to think about all the work you have done to help your patients during your years as a nurse.
2. Maintain and advance the standard of the nursing profession.
Improve your nursing knowledge by signing up for a continuing education course or a conference during National Nurses Week.
3. Improve positive relationships between senior and less experienced nurses.
Take this opportunity to build positive relationships between nurse supervisors and junior and senior nurses. Help clarify role expectations and promote an open exchange of opinions and ideas, and encourage junior nurses to achieve high-quality benchmarks.
Happy National Nurses Week to all nurses!
How will you be celebrating this week? Let us know in the comments.
As frightening as it is to learn you or a loved one has CGD, it can be even more difficult to understand when your primary language is different from that of your medical team. Teune’s ability to speak comfortably in Spanish and English means she can put her patients at ease while giving them the exact information and guidance they need to manage the disease.
Minority Nurse asked Teune some questions about her career path and how she is making a difference as a nurse.
1. How did you discover the field of nursing was right for you?
Like most people who pursue a nursing career, my primary passion is helping people living with chronic illness – and for me, my sister inspired this desire in me. When I was 27 years old, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was an overwhelming time for our whole family – I received many questions from my family and her husband concerning her diagnosis and treatment since I was a registered nurse. The more I became involved with my sister’s health, the more I understood the perspective of family members of people with chronic diseases, and how the lives of caregivers are often just as impacted as the patients. I recognized the effect a caring, understanding nurse could have on patients, as well as their families, by playing that role within my own. I wanted to be part of that positive impact for patients and their families!
2. What led you to becoming a clinical nurse educator?
I first became a CNE for an MS therapy – because for me, it really was personal. I was very knowledgeable in MS diagnosis and treatment, so it was a natural fit for me to move into this role. After about six years, I was looking for a change and pursued an opportunity with Horizon Pharma. I’m now part of a support program for people who are prescribed Horizon’s therapy for chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), a primary immunodeficiency that only 20 children are diagnosed with in the U.S. each year.
For families impacted by this rare disease, it can be difficult to find a healthcare provider that is familiar with the disease, which only increases their fears. And their fears usually stem from not knowing what to expect next or how to manage the condition. That is why educating these patients and their families about CGD is so rewarding for me – it’s the first step to helping them become confident in handling any challenges that may come their way. I not only help patients manage their treatment plan, but also ease some of the burden that comes with being a caregiver. For example, my patients and their families can contact me with any issue—whether it is an insurance question, or a concern about the patient’s health, I will look into the matter and connect them with the right resources. I love it.
3. As our global community becomes increasingly smaller, many people may receive treatment in a place where they do not speak the primary language. How does that barrier impact everything from their ability to decipher a care plan to their hope for a good outcome? How is that magnified when the diagnosis is complex or a rare disease?
For any patient, it can be difficult to understand the complexities of their health and the healthcare system, as well as find the resources to support the best possible outcomes. These issues are further complicated when you are not a native speaker of the language of where you are being treated, as clinical details and context can get lost across multiple channels of communication. Language barriers also inhibit the trusting and positive relationship between the patient and provider that is so important for effective treatment.
For patients with a rare disease like CGD, because the affected community is so small, basic information is relatively limited – even in English. That’s why it’s so helpful for patients to have someone in their life who can talk knowledgeably about their disease in their language. Speaking to someone in his or her own language breaks down the walls that surround them and helps minimize the barriers they face in accessing and understanding their therapy. Even better – it provides them assurance and confidence that everything is going to be okay.
4. As a bilingual CNE, how do your experiences with patients help elevate the work you do? How does it help the patient and the families who are affected by diseases?
As a bilingual CNE, the obvious benefit is that I can communicate with Spanish-language patients in their native language. This helps ensure they are able to successfully adhere to their treatment plan. Additionally, I can help identify issues related to a patient’s or caregiver’s cultural needs. With the trust I’m able to build with my patients and families, they’re able to fully express questions or concerns, and I can ascertain their level of comfort and comprehension in managing their condition, avoiding further difficulties down the road.
Most importantly, I can be more effective in giving patients and families the reassurance they need. Imagine a patient or family member is worried about their treatment coverage or health, and hears, “Hola, como estas,” when they reach out for help. Or, when I give a patient the confirmation that everything is going to be okay, “Todo saldrá bien.” It’s these nuances that can make all the difference for a patient’s or caregiver’s treatment experience. And I love bringing this insight and experience to my broader CNE team. My colleagues and I work so closely that to be able to share the experiences of our bilingual patients feels like an honor.
5. What gives you the greatest joy as a nurse and what is your greatest challenge as a nurse?
As a Horizon CNE, I support my patients for as long as they are taking CGD medication, which for many, can be for life. Even when patients do feel confident with their treatment plan, or when children gain more independence, I am always available for help and to answer any questions. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing a patient grow, and not just in their disease management. CNEs often play a role for every important milestone, from a child’s first day of school to teaching a college student how to inject their medication on their own. We get to know our patients on a more personal level, and are able to share in their accomplishments and joys as well.
Rare diseases can be difficult for even the most experienced doctors to diagnose. Likewise, with CGD, it can be confused with other inflammatory or infectious diseases, as they share many of the same symptoms (such as fever, tiredness, abdominal pain, weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, etc.) Unfortunately, by the time these patients are correctly diagnosed, they are often exhausted and scared. Sometimes patients and their families feel dismissed by the healthcare provider’s inexperience in CGD to be able to recognize the condition or its severity. As a result, when I reach out to a new family, they may be wary or tired of their journey and not being heard by the clinical community. As I only work with CGD patients, the condition is basically my whole life; I work hard to assure these families that I understand and can validate their struggles, and that I will help them in any way that they need me.
6. If others are thinking of a career as a CNE, what kinds of education, experience, and expectations might they have?
As a CNE, you need to be just as passionate about educating patients and their families as you are about listening to them. For most people living with a rare disease, the journey to diagnosis can be long, arduous and lonely. Some patients dive into research when they are diagnosed, and others take more time to process everything, so I always let them share what they are going through to determine how I can best educate them.
It’s important to allow patients to share their thoughts and feelings, and to hold their hand through the experience and acceptance of their condition. It’s this openness and transparency that is so critical to improving treatment outcomes, and helping patients get the most out of the services I can provide.
7. What will you reflect on during National Nurses Week?
This National Nurses Week, I will be reflecting on how rewarding it is to watch patients and caregivers develop from uncertain newcomers to advocates for the rare disease community. While I only work with the same 50 or so patients, I know that the impact I have on their families’ lives is far-reaching.
For example, I recently met with a young man who is preparing to go to college to teach him how to inject and responsibly take care of his medication, helping him gain more independence. Additionally, one of my newer patients is a six-month-old child. I met with the child’s grandparents and guardian, who were understandably very nervous and worried for the child’s well-being. Seeing them more positive and hopeful at the end of my education session reminded me again of why I love what I do. Reflecting on my patients’ successes and growth fills me with pride, and reminds me of my own accomplishments in my career.
Nurses do so much more during one day than the average person may think. We know that they do more than take vitals, change bedpans, and give shots, but others may not. In fact, we know that nurses often make amazing differences in the lives of their patients. And they love doing it.
Here are a couple stories from nurses who have done just that.
Shortly before his 60th birthday, life had become exceptionally difficult for one of Huda Scheidelman’s patients. Scheidelman, RN, and a home care nurse with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, saw these terrible changes. Once a man who loved to explore the city, she saw his health going downhill. He was severely depressed after a recent divorce, he wasn’t following the meal plan from his dietitian, his blood sugars were out of control, and he quit his job as his diabetes made walking painful. Scheidelman decided to mix compassion, facts, and some tough love to get her patient back to his former health. It took some time, but he slowly changed his ways—he quit smoking, got back on insulin, and began following his diet. “Thank you,” he said on a recent visit. “I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
The Social One
Patricia O’Berg, PCCN, RN, BSN, a clinical instructor at the State College of Florida as well as an ICU nurse at Englewood Community Hospital in Englewood, Florida, had a passion for nursing that began at an early age. She didn’t pursue nursing, though, until later in life. After she had a career in public relations and raised a family, O’Berg decided that her passion for being a nurse was “alive and well.”
While earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing, O’Berg decided to participate in a study abroad program in Nicaragua. She immediately realized that missionary nursing touched a special place in her heart, allowing her to care for many underprivileged residents of small villages. By contributing her nursing talent and compassionate care with a small team, O’Berg helped to treat more than 1,000 patients with a variety of health conditions over the course of only five days.
Since then, O’Berg commits to annual visits to the villages of Nicaragua as a clinical instructor to help save patients who wouldn’t otherwise receive care. That’s how she garnered the nickname The Social One—because she has such a passion for people and loves to heal.
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.”