National Nurses Week 2017: So – Why Nursing?
National Nurses’ Week begins May 6 and ends on Florence Nightingale’s birthday May 12, a celebration demonstrating appreciation and acknowledgment for nurses. Through the years, many folks promoted recognizing nurses, and it was President Ronald Reagan who signed a proclamation declaring May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses” in 1982.
Nursing practice holds a variety of applications within the art and science of nursing, embracing dedicated people with multiple skills, talents, personalities, and passions. The reasons for entering nursing professions are as diverse as the people who choose them. After thanking a nurse for his or her dedication, take a moment to ask why he or she got into nursing. The array of answers may surprise you.
Some people have always known they wanted to be nurses, perhaps born into families in which nursing and medicine are a tradition. Some fall into nursing as they progress through health care while striving for new challenges, greater responsibilities, and goals that become clearer only through experience. I knew I wanted to be a paramedic in the 1970s after watching Roy and Johnny on TV’s “Emergency,” but took several years to realize that nursing was in my future. The logical next step after paramedicine involved moving indoors to practice trauma nursing (medic to RN bridge programs ease that transition).
Many involved in nursing want to become social change agents, contributing through education, problem solving, patient advocacy, or as a liaison between health care departments and professionals. Using a RN foundation to grow into Advance Practice Nursing, Nursing Informatics, Education, or Management specializations provides ways to take care of patients beyond the bedside. Some folks are already in health care but desire to move from an unlicensed to a licensed position to increase financial stability and professional respect. In some states and markets, the mean income for nurses can approach six figures.
There are those so impressed with the bedside care given to themselves, friends, or family that they realize nursing is their calling. There are others who have known they wanted to be nurses since childhood, remembering their first toy stethoscopes and candy medicines. Taking care of people is a way to fill one’s own emotional tank, an incredibly rewarding profession that despite its rigors and demands has the potential to give far more than it takes.
Taking care of people through nursing is positive and dynamic, a very high visibility role in an appreciated and admired profession. It should come as no surprise that nursing ranks among the highest occupational rankings as most loved and most respected. The market need for nurses continues to grow, and the need for caregivers is more than a job. Nurses emotionally invest themselves into the relationship with their patients, often receiving immediate feedback and positive reinforcement that their work is helping to better lives.
As a trauma nurse, nursing represented doing the impossible, beating the enemy, giving family members a second chance at new beginnings, or providing the opportunity to say goodbye. Why nursing? I did not choose nursing, it chose me, and I am proud and grateful for the experience. Sometimes my best work was holding a hand, giving a hug, or delivering a well-timed piece of humor.
Whether you choose home care, public health, military service, travel nursing, schools, industry, extended care, hospitals, clinics, or health and wellness promotion (to name a few), nursing offers a wealth of areas and specialties in which to practice. Nursing is financially, professionally, and emotionally rewarding, promotes practicing and improving critical thinking, and nursing skills and license are mobile (around the country or the world). So as you thank nurses who are already in practice, or if you are considering becoming a nurse, stop for a moment to ask that all-important question.
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