This nurses week I don’t want pizza. I don’t want a half-assed ice cream social, set up in the basement of an outdated hospital. I don’t want a email full of platitudinal sentiments from an out-of-touch CEO.
I want patients to be seen as nurses see them. As people.
As people going through unimaginable circumstance, both beautiful and tragic. Facing new parenthood, a cancer diagnosis, life without a limb, or a future of chronic illness.
Politicians and insurance professionals need to see what nurses see. Be a fly on the wall of a hospital room just after PM shift change. Witness the exhaustion wash over a person’s face in the first moments they have to themselves.
Through the day they will have done a lot. And nurses see it all.
We see the person go through the anguish of the unknown. Wrestling with thinking and not thinking of the potential outcome of a diagnostic exam. We see them laugh and encourage their families, spreading lightness despite feeling weighed down. We see them field calls from insurance companies from the hospital bed, pleading the person on the other end to adhere to the plan and pay for needed treatment. We see them working remotely, withholding the truth of their circumstance from colleagues in order to avoid losing income. We see them turn down treatment because it would leave their loved ones in financial ruin. We see the regret of trips not taken, relationships not mended, and words unsaid.
Nurses bear many burdens as the day goes on, all with the hope of lightening the load of a patient. Of a person.
We hear it often. I could never do what you do. And while many think of this as a complimentary statement, it really isn’t.
We can all do it. We can all be human. Caring. Compassionate. Intentional. We can do our work while remembering the humanity that connects us all as people.
So this nurses week. I want more. I don’t just want humanity in healthcare, I want humanity brought back to life.
Happy Nurses Week.