This week, as we celebrate Nurses Week around the world, it’s a good time to reflect on the vital, yet often hidden, role that nurses play in our world. Most people are familiar with the work nurses do in hospitals and medical offices but may not know about the many other ways and places that nurses are contributing to the health and well-being of the planet.
Here are some examples of the major contributions that nurses make.
- Nurses are some of the first professionals to respond to disasters domestically and around the world. They do this through U.S. government agencies, the military, the American Red Cross, and other humanitarian groups.
- Many nurses volunteer time each year, including their own vacation time, to provide non-emergency health services such as health education to the underprivileged and underserved around the world. Nurses also train locals in these areas to provide health services in their own communities.
- Nurses work with the homeless population often visiting them where they live under bridges, in shelters, in parks, in tent cities, and on the street. They do this work through local public health departments, clinics, and outreach programs.
- In programs such as the Nurse-Family Partnership, nurses work with low-income first-time mothers, many of whom are teenagers and single, during pregnancy, birth and for two-years following birth. Their work results in improved health for both mother and baby as well as long-term economic stability for mother and child.
- School nurses are caring for our nation’s children, many of whom have very serious medical, emotional, and family challenges. They treat life-threatening emergencies, avert health crisis situations, provide early detection of health issues, conduct health education, counsel, coach and so much more. School nurses are sometimes the only healthcare provider that a child and her/his family encounter.
These are just a few exemplifications of the life-saving, life-enhancing, and life-affirming work that nurses do. If you know a nurse or a nursing student, take the time to recognize them and let them know how much you appreciate all they do. If you are a nurse, my heartfelt wishes to you for stepping up to the plate every day and doing the hard work that needs to be done, and doing it with compassion, intelligence, great skill, and finesse. You do make a difference — in fact, all the difference in the world.