Happy Nurses Month!
The country has been celebrating the contributions of nurses everywhere this May as part of National Nurses Month. Here at Arizona State University, we’ve hosted several events including convocation, our Golden Grads celebration, and the Lighting of the Lamp to welcome incoming students. I’ve had the privilege of talking with many, many nurses in the past several weeks, all of them at different points in their career trajectories. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Much has changed over time. Much has not. And that needs to change.
When we honored our grads from 1973, they spoke of triumphs and breakthroughs - like working in cardiology when the inaugural pacemaker was introduced, or being pioneers in the administration of the first doses of lidocaine.
They also spoke of patient caseload overload… of advocating solutions that better the profession.. of wanting to continue their education while they worked. These comments from 50 years ago mirror some of the same concerns voiced by today’s graduates and by veteran health care providers alike.
Nurses and nurse educators want to see compassion and empathy at the heart of nursing innovation.
They want to be in both high-tech and high-touch environments.
They want an opportunity to embed in their communities and make a difference where they live.
They want to see themselves and their communities represented in their cohorts and their workplaces.
And they want to avoid the most prevalent of nursing challenges - burnout. An extreme degree of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion.
So what do we do with this kind of information?
We start by listening. By reframing. And by taking definitive action.
Creating academic practice partnerships allows us to share insights and information that we can use to enact meaningful change, both in the classroom and in clinical settings. Partnerships are vital.
We continue to develop and promote online and hybrid educational options that allow learners to continue their education whenever and wherever they choose. Removing roadblocks to success is essential.
We strive to ensure a culturally diverse faculty to serve a culturally diverse student body. We acknowledge that differences should not divide us, but rather, should make us whole.
We must work to be better communicators - in both classrooms and workplaces.
And we need to be advocates for one another. It’s not okay to watch a student or a colleague struggle. Creation of and referral to easy-to-access resources must be a priority. Groups like the American Hospital Association and the American Organization for Nursing Leadership have developed online tools specifically for this purpose.
Nursing is both a respected profession and a calling, as those who lead change and create impact do it from a place of deeply ingrained commitment. Learning from the past positions us all to be poised for impactful change moving forward.
Happy Nurses Month!