The health-care industry is regularly debated on local, state and federal political stages throughout our country. Politicians are learning that it’s a complicated industry that we all rely on during our most vulnerable moments.
On health care’s frontline are nurses. As a non-nurse who has spent a good portion of my career working in health care, I can assure you that nurses are not playing card games, as was recently suggested by a Washington state senator. But they do play cards.
Nurses play the Compassion Card
It’s true on any given shift, on any given unit, you will find nurses sitting. They’re sitting with a patient to learn more about them as a person, sitting with a family to help them understand the challenges facing their loved one, sitting with their colleagues to develop care plans for the most complex patients on their units.
Nurses play the Commitment Card
On any given shift, in any given hospital, you will find nurses sacrificing: sitting in Employee Health after being injured by an angry patient or sitting while they wait for a blood draw following an accidental exposure to bodily fluids. These nurses are committed to a lifestyle — not just a shift.
They are always nurses. They are the ones everyone looks to at the kids’ softball game or when a neighbor feels an odd flutter. They are the ones who jump in to perform CPR wherever it’s needed. They know commitment means sacrifice.
Nurses play the Joy Card
On any given shift, in any given hospital, you will find nurses who have welcomed hundreds — maybe thousands — of babies into the world. They are there at that precise moment when families become something different than they had been.
They are there to help families get through the range of emotions that come — happiness, relief, a little shock, exhaustion, a little fear about the future — and help families take those next steps when they think, “Oh wow. What do we do now?”
Nurses play the Grief Card
On any given shift, in any give hospital, nurses sit by the side of those who are saying goodbye. They mourn with those who have no one. They soothe worries of families, who wonder if their loved one is distressed or in pain. They listen to prayers and regrets and memories. They learn what it is to live and go home and hug the ones closest to them.
Nurses play the Lifesaver Card
But what we also know is that on any given shift, in any given hospital, nurses literally never sit. They are too busy playing the lifesaving card: running codes, obtaining blood gases, watching for minute changes in heart patterns or other vitals. In fact, studies show, even in times of crisis, nurses put their personal safety on the line for their patients.
I am not a nurse, but I do admire those who are. I believe that the most important card I can play as we approach National Nurses Week on May 6 is the thank you card.
Please join me today and every day in thanking nurses for playing the cards of compassion, commitment and lifesaving.