Monday, May 07, 2007

National Nurses Week

For someone who never wanted to be a nurse but as one who's been a nurse for almost 40 years, I do get miffed when no one recognizes this week.

Nurses are the backbone of the health care system and our ranks are dwindling. The median age of an RN is 47. It's a difficult job to do at 47 - and older. I'm 59 and could not physically work on a nursing unit, long term care or hospital.

There may be more people who want to go into the profession; however, there are not enough faculty to teach them. University education requires at least an MSN, a degree which would earn much more money in the private sector.

But if we have more MSNs, who does the care at the bedside? Aides with limited education? Probably. That seems to be the way the business of health care is going.

I never wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to be a writer. However, the things that I have seen and experienced in the 39 years since I received my RN have seasoned my writing.

Once upon a time when I was the charge nurse for a large skilled nursing unit, I had a tiny elderly woman as a resident. The nurses and aides tried to make her time easy. We brushed her cottony hair into a top knot. We dressed her in pink nighties and lifted her gently out of bed and onto a chair, careful not to disturb the dressings on her vascular leg ulcers. After we had her comfortable (or what we thought was comfortable) she looked at us with tears in her eyes and said, "I'll never have another beautiful day."

Nurses help to make those days as beautiful as possible.

Happy Nurses Week.


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