Paying homage to nurses

Nurses on front lines of health care carry torch of service

By Deb Dittner

nurseDuring Nurses Appreciation Week May 6-12, we need to take a moment to celebrate US!!!

We need to honor Florence Nightingale (and Florence Nightingale Day May 12), who was an English social reformer and founder of modern nursing.

She is well known for her service during the Crimean War where she organized, managed, and trained nurses in tending to wounded soldiers. Nightingale’s many writings later encouraged worldwide health care reform providing an everlasting impact on improving public health for the poor.

Currently, during these unsettled times due to COVID-19, we need to celebrate nurses by recognizing their devotion, selflessness, and contribution to the profession of nursing and humanity.

The nursing programs of today need to continue to educate and emphasize to nurses and future nurses about the priority issues facing the profession and care of patients, and how nurses are leading and building healthier communities.

We need to inspire professional nurses to explore creative ways to build on the knowledge and overall skills, and collaborate with other health care providers and communities with the goal of improving the health care of the populations.

Times have changed in the nursing profession. There is the personal, political, social, and scientific domain within the profession that has changed the internal fire and heart of the nurse.

Of course, health care improvements occur daily, but what has happened to the interconnections and wholeness of the nurse?  Health care requirements often put the nurse in front of a computer screen and not directly at the bedside where it all first began. And yet, they continue to manage. Many nurses are struggling right now as they work double shifts, amounting to 80-plus hour work weeks. And still, they carry on because that’s what it is to be a nurse.

Taking care of elderly

Nurses are caring for the elderly in facilities where no visitors are allowed, providing not only nursing care but the only socialization that the elderly receive. They are caring for the sick on the front lines in emergency rooms, possibly leading toward the need of a respirator. They are caring for the moms birthing their newborns alone as no family is allowed in the birthing room.

Then, the nurses go home to their families, exhausted, where they take every precaution so as not to infect their own family. But who is providing care for the nurses?

Through all of the uncertainties today, the nurse needs to find a time and place for his or her own self-care in order to make it through another hour, another day and another week.

Please make sure the nurses in your life receive wholesome meals, time allowed for physical movement, a proper and well-deserved eight hours of sleep, ways in which to boost their immune systems through supplementation of Vitamin D and C and more, breathing techniques, and fresh air.

Last year, I went back to teaching our future nurses as it is so important for them to understand caring science and the importance of self-care. It’s been a challenging year, but I never thought we would be fighting on the front lines for our patients and ourselves.

• Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at www.debdittner.com or contact her at 518-596-8565.

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