Paying Tribute to our Nurses

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Americans hold their nurses in very high regard. For the 20th year in a row, nurses ranked in the top spot in Gallup’s annual Most Honest and Ethical Professions Poll. An astounding 81 percent of respondents rated nurses’ honesty and ethical standards as “very high” or “high.” The American public ranked nurses the highest among a long list of professionals, including medical doctors, grade-school teachers and pharmacists.

According to the American Nurses Association, representing the interests of the nation’s 4.3 million registered nurses, the ranking directly reflects the trust the American public has in nurses and the work they continue to do to earn that trust, even amid a persistent pandemic.

“National Nurses Week this year is such an important time to pause and pay tribute to our nurses, who have served patients in the most remarkable ways throughout this pandemic,” said Rachel Pepper, DNP, chief nursing officer, Kansas City Division, The University of Kansas Health System. “I am in awe daily seeing our nurses stand strong and support people who are vulnerable and at points of deep despair. They give hope to patients who need it and provide expert skill and genuine compassion to everyone they serve. To know a nurse is to know someone of true heart and greatness.”

In the coming weeks, the world will recognize the contributions of nurses to health care and their communities with National Nurses Week, beginning May 6 and ending May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. As a nursing supervisor on the frontlines of the Crimean War, Nightingale introduced hygiene protocols and other actions that significantly lowered infections and deaths in battlefield hospitals. Her work is the foundation for today’s nursing profession.

National Nurses Week gives us an opportunity to recognize the impressive contributions of nurses who work in a variety of specialties and settings. Think of the school nurse who administers vaccines to the incredibly focused oncology nurse who assists in life-saving treatment. Not only do they drive the healthcare of their patients in numerous roles, nurses also volunteer in their communities, providing another level of care.

“Nurses are always serving. They support friends and family and provide education and advice to those around them,” said Rachel. “They see areas of need in the community and find ways to help people and raise them up.”

If you would like to recognize a nurse in your life during National Nurses Week, a thank you note is a nice way to acknowledge the impact he or she has had on your life. For those who hold a special spot in your wellness journey, you might consider ordering lunch for them or even gifting them with a pedicure or massage certificate. On average, a nurse walks four to five miles on every 12-hour shift, which equals a 5K race every day. One incredible gift is to donate blood. If you are eligible, giving blood is an easy way to help ensure our healthcare system and nurses have the assets they need to save lives.

“Our community has been incredible throughout the pandemic providing support, kind words, meals, appreciation and much more to nurses. These things matter,” said Rachel. “We thank our communities for seeing and recognizing the work of nurses and for continuing to celebrate and thank them.”

National Nurses Week highlights the crucial contributions nurses make to our communities with direct healthcare to their patients or contributions through volunteer work. It’s easy to understand how these warriors on the front lines of wellness are described as being the most honest and ethical profession. Now, it’s time for us to recognize their contributions and the role they play in keeping our communities safe.

“Nurses are with people at the most vulnerable moments in life. People trust nurses with their hearts; they tell their nurse things they don’t share with others. Nurses are present in the night, in hard moments and moments of joy and relief,” said Rachel. “The bond between a patient and nurse is deep, unique and special. This has earned nurses the honor of being recognized and celebrated as an honest and ethical profession.”


Some interesting facts and figures about nurses:
• Only 60 percent of nurses in America work in hospitals. The rest are employed in schools, medical offices, hospice facilities, private homes and other locations.
• Nurses took the top spot in Gallup’s Most Honest and Ethical Professions Poll. The next spot was claimed by medical doctors, a whopping 14 percentage points behind nurses.
• The U.S. Bureau of Labor counts nearly four million nursing jobs in the country.
• The first known nursing school was established in India in 250 BCE but only male students could attend because they were seen as more pure than women.
• National Nurses Week traces its beginnings to the International Council of Nurses founding International Nurses Day in 1974. A few years later, the celebration was extended to a week, and National Nurses Week was formally established in 1994.