You’re probably like me and hate it when someone wishes you a “Happy Nurses Week!” You hate the praise, and dislike being spotlighted. My Dad, a former Naval Officer, hides from the world on Veteran’s Day for the same reason. “If I wanted praise, I would have been an actor” – albeit, likely not a good one.
I think the reason we don’t like it is for that very reason. We chose this profession knowing that it required us to put the spotlight on the person we were treating instead of ourselves. Our fulfillment is in seeing a regular patient ring the bell on their last chemo visit, or helping out our fellow nurses stuck in the trenches of a very bad day, or when we can coordinate a special visit for a patient in need. We stay late and we come early the next day — yet somehow clock in and out on time every day! We don’t do it so that someone will order us a pizza or bring us flowers, but because our very nature is wrapped up in giving strangers a space to heal. We relentlessly protect that purpose, even (perhaps especially) during a crisis.
The world was rocked for 3 years. The pandemic took a very real toll on your heart and mind, yet somehow you’re still pushing through because you know you’re needed. You know that if you don’t show up, someone will be without their caregiver. Whatever your daily challenges are to get to work, it is more important to keep that spotlight on someone else who needs it more. That’s why nurses are the worst patients. We don’t like being taken care of because whatever we’re dealing with, we’ve seen worse. We know a band-aid and some Robitussin can solve 99% of our problems, even if they can’t.
So this year, as the nursing community continues to change, I know the core mission of the profession will remain the same because of who you are. Whether you’re the nurse present at your patient’s first breath or their last breath, I know you will continue to fight and protect that sacred relationship. I know you will continue to try and sacrifice your break times because you don’t want Ms. Sally waiting for you to finish your sandwich to start her treatment.
I can’t thank you enough for what you do, and I know that a thank you isn’t what you want to hear, so instead let me say — I’m proud of you. Be proud this week as you look back over your career and reflect on those memorable patients you’ve cared for. Be proud of the moments where you poured an extra 10% (even though you didn’t have 10% to give) into what you were doing to make that dressing change, IV placement, tube adjustment, bath, procedure, or even teaching moment that much more special for your patient. Be proud that you chose a career of service and absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, made thousands of strangers thankful you were by their sides.
You’re the most influential patient advocate and it’s an honor to know you. Hospitals across the U.S would be lost without your selflessness.
Justin Kelley, RN, MSN (NI)
Solutions Executive, iQueue for Infusion Centers, LeanTaaS
7 years of Clinical RN experience (BMT, Oncology, Palliative Care)
7 years of Hospital IT/Operations support