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As a commonly re-posted, well-put sentiment on Facebook stated this past week:
"Being a nurse means having immense responsibility with little authority. You step into people's lives and make a difference. Some bless you, some curse you. You see people at their worst and their best. You see a person's capacity for love, growth, courage, and endurance. May 6th-May 12th is Nurse Appreciation Week. Re-post if you are a nurse, love a nurse, or appreciate a nurse."
In 1993, National Nurses Week was officially established to begin May 6th and end on May 12th, Florence Nightingale's birthday. Each year, communities and educational and healthcare facilities celebrate what has become known as the most trusted profession, and one of the most important fields in the healthcare world. To put this thought into perspective, let's consider the effect of nursing shortages for a moment.
Studies have shown that when there is a shortage of nurses in a care unit that patients do not do as well as they could. Shortages have shown to result in poorer health outcomes, decreased patient satisfaction in the quality of care they've received, increased patient health complications and even increased death rates. On the flip side, nurse shortages also result in higher error rates due to nurse fatigue and burnout that can lead to decreased job satisfaction and prompt more nurses to leave the profession. It's a cycle that needs to be remedied.
Having said this, there have been significant positive growths and changes made in nursing over recent years. Here are the latest stats on nurses according to the American Nurses Association website:
Since 2004, the number of RNs have grown by 5.3% resulting in a net growth of over 150,000
For the first time since 1980, the proportion of RNs under the age of 40 has increased to 29.5%
450,000 (14.5%) of RNs received their first US license after 2003
250,000 (8%) of RNs are APRNs (Advanced Practice RNs) where they have met advanced educational and clinical practice guidelines (ex. certified nurse midwife, nurse practitioner, certified RN anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist, etc.).
These growths may not seem like much, and there is always room for improvement, but it is a huge step forward in positive more adequate patient care. Also, in 2010 there have been significant changes put through by the government in the healthcare world that help optimize contributions made by nurses and provide them with the opportunity to shape the healthcare system into one that better promotes and practices prevention, wellness and coordination of care. These include the Health Reform and The Future of Nursing report. What makes these changes great is the fact that nurses - those in the healthcare world that get the most patient interaction time and have the potential to really get to know their patients and educate them - will have better opportunities to do so. This means better quality of care and more satisfied, healthier patients overall.
In honor of nurses everywhere, many communities celebrated this week by hosting local nursing celebrations; promoting a positive image of nursing by hosting health and wellness fares; some people purchased promotional items (t-shirts, buttons, etc.) that celebrate nursing as a profession and individual nurses; and many institutions such as healthcare facilities, schools and libraries posted special displays that educate and celebrate this special week. Take some time today to celebrate the nurse you know and love on the last day of Nurse Appreciation Week. Yay nursing!
Here are some of our favorite items that we thought nurses might like to know about:
Pamper yourself! - TheraPearl Neck Wrap
Stay clean patient after patient - Hibistat Hand Wipes
One of the best in blood glucose monitoring - Assure Platinum Monitor