National Nurses Week, May 6-12

TR Staff
Staff Writer

By Ellie Boese
The American Nursing Association states that there are more than 4 million registered nurses in the United States. To recognize these unsung heroes, the first National Nurses Week was celebrated in 1954. President Nixon later declared the first official National Nurses Week in 1974, and the week we celebrate today was formally declared by the ANA in 1993. The ANA says that the week “is a time for everyone—individuals, employers, other healthcare professionals, community leaders, and nurses—to recognize the vast contributions and positive impact of America’s 4 million registered nurses.”
The week begins with “Nurses Day” on May 6 and a full week of honoring nurses follows, coming to an end on May 12, on a well-known nurse’s birthday—you may have heard of her: Florence Nightingale.
Florence Nightingale worked with a team of nurses during the Crimean War in 1854 to better conditions at a military hospital, where more soldiers were dying from diseases originating from the hospital’s unsanitary conditions than from their actual injuries. Because of her hard work, the hospital’s death rate decreased by nearly two-thirds.
Part of Nightingale’s legacy comes from her decision to pursue nursing, despite expectations for a woman of a wealthy family during that era, who were expected to marry to “ensure class standing.”
In a December 2018 study, which asked Americans to vote for professionals’ honesty and ethics in a variety of fields, nurses ranked highest for the 17th-consecutive year.
Nurses not only provide vital medical services. They also pour themselves into their patients’ comfort and safety, offering kindness, compassion, even much-needed humor to ease someone’s mind. They work long day and night shifts, weekends, holidays, giving 100% of themselves, their time and their energy to their work. There are many more Florence Nightingales—though with different names—than we know.
My most recent experiences with nurses have opened my eyes to a new appreciation for these hard-working souls. I had a chance to speak with Susan Ashline, Page Baade, and Becky Pfennig, all RN Clinical Instructors with Dakota College Bottineau's satellite, VCSU, about a then-upcoming community collaboration simulation training.
Each of their students was immersed in real-life situations in a controlled space, preparing for their future as registered nurses. It was incredibly enlightening to see how much instructors are doing to send out the best new group of RNs into our communities, state, country and world.
My other experience came after I sustained a hand injury from a glass bowl shattering in my hand. I got to see another nursing student who was shadowing an RN at the Jamestown Regional Medical Center. They both attended to me kindly, full of good-natured humor that made me almost forget why I was in the ER in the first place. The student was from VCSU, graduating in just a few short days. Though she said she saw graduation and certification as nerve-wracking prospects, I have no doubt in her abilities—and neither did her supervising nurse, who’d been on the job for many years.
Take time this week to say “thank you” to every nurse you see, whether it’s in a situation you’d rather have avoided or if you meet in passing. There’s work they do that we don’t see and weight they carry that we can’t imagine.
Thank you, Nurses!