Weeklong celebration of nurses culminates May 12

If you have a loved one who works as a nurse, there’s still time to celebrate his or her dedication and service.

National Nurses Week began last Friday, May 6, and will culminate this Thursday, May 12.

The Crossroads Chronicle salutes all nurses, especially given the workload and stress the pandemic created.

Emanuel County is home to a number of nursing homes, doctor’s offices, and Emanuel Medical Center. Between these facilities, hundreds of nurses are employed. Even more nurses live in Emanuel and work elsewhere.

Whatever the case may be, consider this a formal “thank you” for your compassion, enthusiasm to care for others, kind hearts, and selflessness for working long and sometimes unusual hours.

From assisting with life-threatening ER crises to delivering babies and caring for the elderly in their last moments, nurses perform some of the most difficult and heartbreaking tasks in the medical world. As workers who perform the most essential healthcare tasks, nurses serve as the first point of contact for most patients.

National Nurses Week honors their contributions and sacrifices and reminds us to thank the medical professionals who keep us healthy. It is celebrated between May 6, National Nurses Day, and May 12, the birthdate of celebrated nurse Florence Nightingale.

Once viewed as simply doctors’ assistants, nurses are now recognized as highly specialized professionals with a wide range of skills. Today, becoming a nurse requires four years of study and extreme focus and dedication. This versatile career with dozens of specialties is a crucial link between patients and doctors.

The advent of modern nursing is credited to Nightingale, who laid the foundation for professional nursing through her tireless work during and after the Crimean War. As a nursing manager on the frontlines, she introduced hygiene protocols and other measures that drastically reduced infections and deaths in battlefield hospitals.

Today, nurses work in a wide range of specialties and settings, from school nurses who administer vaccines (and more, as described by Lea Ann Williams’s article above) to highly specialized oncology nurses who assist in life-saving treatment decisions.

To acknowledge the contributions of nurses and call attention to their working conditions, the International Council of Nurses established May 12 as International Nurses Day in 1974. The celebration was extended to a week a few years later, and National Nurses Week was officially born in 1994. Sponsored and promoted by the American Nurses Association, the week-long event highlights the crucial contributions that nurses make to the community.

In the U.K., nurses celebrate with an annual ritual based on Florence Nightingale’s nighttime visits to injured soldiers, which earned her the nickname “Lady with the Lamp.” On May 12, a ceremonial lamp is passed along a line of nurses from the Nurses’ Chapel at Westminster Abbey to the abbey’s High Altar, symbolizing the passage of knowledge.

Here are a few creative ways you can celebrate Nurses Week on your own while paying homage to the work nurses do daily:

1. Thank a nurse with a fresh meal or massage. Nurses work long hours with few breaks and deserve a treat. Send a nurse in your life a surprise meal or spa session to show your appreciation.

2. Donate blood. If you are eligible, donating blood is an easy way to help ensure our healthcare system has the resources it needs to save lives.

3. Write a thank-you note to the nurses you know. Doing this will let them know you see and appreciate their efforts.

In closing, here are some bits of nursing trivia:

• In the Middle Ages, all-male religious orders cared for the sick and dying. Women began playing a larger role in religious hospitals in the 1600s.

• On average, a nurse walks 4 to 5 miles on every 12-hour shift. That’s equivalent to a 5K every day.

• Only 60 percent of nurses work in hospitals

Almost half of nurses work in other locations, including schools, hospice facilities, and private homes.

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