~ Hannah Farnham Lee 1844
A week of celebrating the LPNs and RNs who do the work of caring for a nation of frail, sick or recovery human beings draws to a close.
Odd to have been in nursing so long that it seems as if it was only yesterday that there was no national day of recognition ... let alone a week. Old enough to remember being taught the sexist heresies in "Nursing History" that Florence Nightingale was a 'loose woman' and a camp follower - nothing about her strong mind and determination of will. Old enough to still remember my nursing instructor telling her all presumably all white class of students that black patients had inferior nervous systems and therefore required less pain medication. When no one questioned her statement and I spoke up, my Georgia classmates rolled their lovely eyes and murmured "well y'all she's a Yankee - what do you y'all expect". That same nursing instructor taught me to stay on my feet for ungodly numbers of hours and stay focused on the job and my patients no matter what. Old enough to remember being in nursing school (not far from his own Atlanta) when Martin Luther King was killed and watching the other students, some still in their pretty white frock uniforms stand and cheer. Old enough to know long term care before OBRA and the pressure ulcers in frail elders that had excavated tissue to the hip bone. Old enough to have developed a disdain for the very regulation and regulators that a much younger nurse once thought were essential to quality care.
This week we created moments to honor the women and men who drop children off at day care at ungodly hours to care for your grandmothers. We reminded them that their work is blessed and scientific. We praised their ability to endure assignments of 30 patients to a nurse and not flinch when family members complain that they are lazy or slow. Thirty to one and they still maintain quality. We left candy, cookies, cards, pens, pizza and a homemade breakfast to in some small way say Thank-You for Caring: Professionally, Scientifically, with Respect and Compassion.
When you next enter a hospital or clinic or doctor's office, remember this - if you have a friend who is a nurse, take her along with you...your health care outcome will be better.