Wednesday, May 7, 2014
About 15 years ago, signs started popping up in front of schools that read, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” No disagreement here.
Some of my teachers were among the most influential role models in my life.
To that, I’d like to add: “If you opened your eyes this morning and saw the sunrise, thank the Good Lord – and a nurse.”
More than likely, even before you learned your ABCs, you’d already had several encounters with nurses. Chances are a nurse was waiting to welcome you into this world. And it was probably a nurse who put your first diaper on you.
Remember the nurse who gave you your childhood vaccinations? Or the school nurse who took your temperature and made you feel better by giving you a sympathetic hug? From schools and doctors’ offices to hospitals and outpatient settings, nurses are an integral part of our community’s health care system.
A nurse’s very presence can ease the fears of the injured and wounded, soothe a sick child and comfort the grieving. No wonder nursing has topped the list of most trusted professions in Gallup’s annual survey 14 of the past 15 years.
In recent years, the role of nurses has expanded dramatically. Today, nurses are serving as researchers, policy advisers and community health educators. And even though nurses are among the largest and fastest-growing groups of health care professionals -- with 3.1 million nurses nationwide -- their numbers aren’t growing fast enough. An aging population and an aging nursing work force have heightened the demand for nurses, making it the nation’s top field for job growth in the next four years.
Nursing has been called a science and an art. We all know it doesn’t take a scientist to recognize suffering and show compassion. Science can, however, spur healing and recovery.
As chairman of the Georgetown Hospital System board of trustees, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and seeing many dedicated nurses who practice that delicate balance of art and science every day. I also have learned how rigorous their training is because one of our own employees is pursuing her nursing degree while balancing work and family. Becoming a nurse requires grit. Whether at the bedside, in a physician’s office or out in the community, our nurses continually inspire me with their knowledge, their resourcefulness and their advocacy for their patients.
Day and night, they care for us, our family members and our friends and neighbors. Every time I am told by someone, including a stranger, that he or she had the best nursing care at a Georgetown Hospital System hospital or facility, I feel gratitude and a sense of pride.
And our nurses’ efforts have not gone unnoticed by their peers. For several years, nurses at Georgetown Hospital System have been recognized with the Palmetto Gold Award, the state’s highest recognition for nursing excellence in patient care.
This week, May 6-12, is National Nurses Week, and we at Georgetown Hospital System are honoring nurses with activities, ceremonies and events. It’s a time when we reflect not only on our nurses’ achievements but also on what their contributions truly mean to patient care.
If there’s a special nurse who has made a difference in your life, I encourage you to join me in expressing heartfelt gratitude to our community’s nursing heroes. And remember, tomorrow when you wake up and see the sunrise, say a prayer of thanks for the nurses who care for us all.
H. McRoy Skipper, Jr. is chairman of the Georgetown Hospital System Board of Trustees and a partner in the firm of WebsterRogers LLP, Certified Public Accountants.