National Nurses Week begins on May 6 and ends on May 12. There will be events across the country to honor nurses and to educate the public about their work.
Nurses are on the front lines of the healthcare system. They are there for us in our schools, our doctor’s offices and our hospitals. More often than not, they’re the health care professionals that we interact with the most. Still, there are a lot of things about their job that most people don’t understand. So in celebration of National Nurses Week, here are a few things nurses would like for you to know:
1. They love their job
Nursing isn’t the kind of work that you do unless you have a real passion for it. This isn’t a nine-to-five gig that they can just shake off between shifts. Nursing is a career and it is an identity. PayScale rates the job of Registered Nurse as having a 4 out of 5 job satisfaction rate (highly satisfied) based on 9266 votes. Nurses love what they do, and they put their heart and soul into their work each and every day, despite all the challenges.
2. They’re highly skilled and trained
Nurses are licensed professionals who go to school for a long time to do their jobs. And, it’s a good thing they do. Don’t underestimate the amount of critical thinking and decision making that nursing requires.
“What surprised me the most when I began working as an RN is the level of autonomy that you experience—even as a new graduate nurse,” Sarah Pruitt, RN and manager of clinical operations at Advocate Christ Medical Center told Rasmussen College. “A lot of people mistakenly believe that nurses are there to follow whatever orders the doctors give us. While we also do that, nurses must also thoroughly assess a patient or situation, critically think and then implement the plan of care.”
3. Nurses really do care
The day to day work of nursing is long, hard, relatively low-paying, and often thankless. So why do they do it? The answer is that they do this work because they truly care about their patients. The relationships that nurses build with patients is a vital part of the care plan. It’s even a part of the training that nurses receive. The friendliness and concern that nurses express isn’t an act though. Nurses really do get care about their patients and they often become quite attached to them too. That commitment is what keep them coming back everyday despite all the challenges associated with the job.
4. The work is extremely draining on basically every level
Care workers need self-care training, and regular practices, because their jobs are so challenging on basically every level. There’s the emotional and even spiritual challenge that comes with supporting patients and their families through truly difficult circumstances. The work is also incredibly physically demanding with long shits and lots of time on your feet. It’s also intellectually and interpersonally arduous.
5. They also shoulder a lot of other people’s stress
Nurses don’t just have to deal with their own tension and exhaustion. They also have to contend with the stress of others, which often comes at them from every direction. Patients, doctors and administrators all lean on nurses for support. Still, these professionals remain calm, cool beacons of stability and care throughout it all. Now, added tensions around the cost of healthcare is only adding to the stress. It’s a lot for nurses to shoulder.
“Changes with insurance deductibles created great stress for patients, decreased reimbursement created stress and frustration for hospital administrators, and physicians and nursing seemed to be the place where cutbacks were made,” one nurse told the Times Free Press. “The stress of someone’s life being in your hands is bad enough, but then add frustrated patients, administrators and physicians on top of it and that makes for a miserable situation.”
6. Your gratitude goes a long way
Nurses understand that the time they spend with patients is about their care. The relationship isn’t meant to be a two-way street. Still as much as they’re happy to give, just a little gratitude can go a really long way. Nurses deal with a lot, so a simple and sincere “thank you” from a patient or family member of a patient means the world.
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