The United States observes National Nurses’ Week ; in March there was a national doctors’ day, but nurses get 7 days. Maybe that is to reward them for putting up with doctors. Or maybe because people tend to like nurses better than doctors. For whatever reason, it is well deserved.
I am a physician because of a nurse. As a child I was interested in health care and decided to become a nurse- that’s what girls did in the 1970’s. I needed advice so I talked to the nurse at my high school about her career. After answering my questions, she looked straight at me and said, “Aletha, have you thought about going to medical school?” Until that time, I had not. But from that suggestion my path changed and grew into a medical career now 37 years long.
Some of my best friends have been and are nurses. They are some of the few people who understand my crazy life. Since still the majority of nurses are women, we have that common bond; they understand juggling a career with marriage and motherhood.
Unfortunately, nursing, like medical practice, has become heavy on documentation. I hear my nurse friends lament the amount of time they spend charting at a computer instead of caring at the bedside.
The American health care system is changing in ways sometimes characterized as an overhaul- payment reform, delivery methods, quality measurements, patient engagement are all buzzwords now. But one thing hasn’t changed. There are still women and men who choose to become nurses, not for a lucrative salary, or a convenient work schedule, but because they want to make a difference in the world, one patient at a time. For that, we honor them this week.