“You don’t build a house without its foundation. You don’t build a hospital without its nurses.”
Nursing is both among the oldest and the youngest of professions. The word nurse derives from the Latin word nutritious. The American Nurses Association defines nursing as the “protection, promotion and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and population.” According to International Council of Nurses (ICN), nursing encompasses “autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well, and in all settings. Nursing includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people. Advocacy promotion of a safe environment, research, participation in shaping health policy and in patient and health systems management, and education are also key nursing roles.”
A colloquial meaning of the word NURSE can be:
N for Nobility
U for Understanding
R for Responsibility
S for Sympathy
E for Efficiency
Hence, every nurse has or must have the quality of being noble, empathetic, sympathetic, responsible, efficient, open-minded, emotionally stable, versatile, respectful and reliable.
Every year on the 12th of May, International Nurses’ Day is celebrated to recall and show respect for the work of nurses in healthcare. Initially, the Nurses’ Day was proposed by Dorothy Sutherland in the year 1953. Sutherland was an official with the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare. However, at that time it was not approved by the then President of the United States, Dwight D Eisenhower. In the year 1965, the INC (International Nurses Council) started to observe this day on May 12. In 1974, this day received official recognition, and from then onwards, Nurses’ Day is celebrated annually throughout the world on May 12. The date was chosen as it was the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, a British school reformer and the founder of modern nursing.
Florence Nightingale was a Victorian-era English woman who cared for sick and dying soldiers during the Crimean War. She was the lady carrying a lamp as she made her way through the dark and damp halls of a make-shift hospital where hundreds of men lay inches apart in unspeakable conditions. That’s why she is also known as “The Lady With The Lamp”. When she returned back to England she avoided every attempt at fame. She quietly withdrew and secluded herself from mainstream society. Her efforts to remain anonymous were so well-orchestrated that when she died at the age of 90, many were surprised to know that she was still alive.
Along with nursing care, Nightingale also attended to most of the surgeries that resulted in amputations. Her early morning hours were spent writing letters to families of soldiers. In addition to providing information about soldiers’ conditions and care, these letters were also used to announce their deaths, reassuring their families that every effort had been made, while ‘death came peacefully’. Florence Nightingale was a writer also. In addition to the reports she generated, which were filled with explicit detail, she wrote about a variety of topics. Much of her philosophy about religion, politics, family, society, nursing and sanitation is documented in the thousands of letters she wrote in both England and India.
Florence Nightingale was once asked, what is nursing to you? She replied, “Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God’s spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts.”
Nurses are the backbone of healthcare. They play an important role in the health sector. Without the nursing staff, a hospital can’t function even for a day. They are the important link between a doctor and the patient. A doctor only prescribes the medicine and makes the diagnosis, but it is the nurse on whom the responsibility of the treatment depends. So, if doctors are the brain of the hospital, nurses are the heart. If the brain fails, heart will manage but if the heart fails, nothing will function.
Nurses’ Day is celebrated to mark the contribution of nurses to society. Nurses work tirelessly and give their selfless dedication to the service of mankind. Nursing is the largest healthcare profession in the world. Nurses have various roles, their primary role being to advocate and care for individuals and support them through illness and health. Their other roles and responsibilities are:
• Collaborate with teams to plan for patient care.
• Advocate for the health and wellbeing of patients.
• To record medical history and symptoms.
• Monitor patient health and record vital signs.
• Administer medications and treatments.
• Educate patients about the management of illnesses.
• Perform diagnostic tests.
• Provide advice and support to patients.
Most of the time nurses work in a tough environment where extreme stress is part of their job. Nurses played a great role during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Nurses were (and still are) on the frontline of fighting the pandemic. Many nurses lost their lives also. The International Council of Nurses’ latest analysis shows that the number of nurses who died after contracting COVID-19 is more than 5,000 in only 44 countries. Thus, it is our duty to thank and salute all nurses who are tirelessly working and who lost their lives in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nurses are angels on earth. They deserve admiration and respect. The International Nurses’ Day is an opportunity to thank nurses for the work they do for society. The smile they spread, with their tender loving care, is what makes them so special.
The writer is a BSc Nursing student. She can be reached at [email protected]