It’s National Nurses Week, and all across Birmingham, nurses are being acknowledged for all they do for the people in our city. Have you thanked a local nurse this week?
What is National Nurses week all about?
National Nurses Week, celebrated May 6-12 each year, is a week devoted to highlighting the diverse ways in which registered nurses work to improve healthcare. It was officially instituted in 1990 by the American Nurses Association.
It is during this week that celebrations and receptions are held across the country to honor the work of nurses. Popular activities include banquets, state/city proclamations and seminars. Many nurses also receive gifts, flowers and, of course, thank you’s from friends, family members, patients and the doctors they work alongside daily.
Who can we pay tribute to for the founding of modern and professional nursing?
May 12 marks the final day of National Nurses week, which is also the birthday of Florence Nightingale. Why do these dates coincide with each other? Because Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern and professional nursing.
Nightingale (1890-1910) was an English social reformer and statistician who became prominent while serving as a manager for nurses trained by her during the Crimean War. She also helped lay the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. (It was the first secular nursing school in the world.)
In recognition of her work as a pioneer of nursing, Nightingale’s name was honored in several ways:
- Nightingale Pledge – a statement of the ethics and principles of the nursing profession that is taken by new nurses as they venture into the field.
- Florence Nightingale Medal – the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve and is awarded to nurses or nursing aides for “exceptional courage and devotion to the wounded, sick or disabled or to civilian victims of a conflict or disaster” or “exemplary services or a creative and pioneering spirit in the areas of public health or nursing education”.
Two Birmingham nurses strive to make a difference
Take a moment and think about what it would be like to be a nurse. The first things that come to mind are probably visuals like blood pressure cuffs, syringes and prescription pads. But there is so much more to being a nurse. It’s a job that requires great knowledge and attention, patience and the ability and want to care for others.
Melanie Eidson is a NICU Staff Nurse at Brookwood Baptist Health. She earned her bachelor’s degree in the Science of Nursing from Auburn University. For Melanie, the idea to become a nurse began at a young age, when she experienced sickness and the care of nurses when her dad had cancer.
“Nurses not only took care of my dad, but also took care of our family,” said Melanie. “Once I was shown that kind of love, I wanted to be able to share that with others.”
Out of all the fields of nursing one can go into, how did Melanie decide to be a NICU nurse?
“I decided to be a NICU nurse because I was placed there [during school], but the moment I fed my first preemie, I fell in love. They have a fight about them that you don’t see in other areas of nursing. They are miracles and I fell for that strength, passion and love in tiny humans.”
Nurses are there for their patients through the good, the bad and everything in between. Doctors are there to provide expert knowledge and care, but it is actually nurses who are there to provide the one-on-one attention so many need.
“Nurses are the backbone of the medical world,” said Gina Thomas, RN for Endocrinology and Internal Medicine Associates. “We are the ones who provide the hands-on care. We are the doctor’s eyes and ears. We don’t always get lunch breaks, bathroom breaks or any kind of breaks for that matter. But we show up every day to take care of our patients.”
With long hours, tons of patients, each with their own specific needs, and mountains of stress, you have to wonder, what makes someone want to be a nurse?
“The majority of [nurses] want to make a difference in the lives of patients and to make a difference in the lives of their families,” said Gina.
Melanie agrees, stating that for her, being a nurse is a calling.
“It’s a love, a joy and a great satisfaction to know you have helped others. I like to think I found myself and continue to find myself by serving others.”
Where would doctors be without nurses?
With all that nurses do, where do you think doctors and the world of healthcare would be without them?
“Though doctors typically make the plan for a patient after they’ve done an assessment, nurses, especially in a hospital, are the ones that carry the plan out. They are, in a sense, closer to the patient and see the effects of therapy more quickly.
Not only do they implement the plan, but they are there to alert the doctor if something changes, it someone’s getting short of breath or is having some sort of adverse reaction to treatment. From that standpoint, they really are an integral part of the team, especially in a hospital, and healthcare wouldn’t happen otherwise.”
Have you done anything special for a nurse in Birmingham during National Nurses Week?