Nurses Week recognizes caregivers around world (Opinion)

Julie Clayton
Guest column

May 6 marked the start of International Nurses Week, the annual recognition of nurses and the profession of nursing.

Julie Clayton

Like frontline workers everywhere, nurses work tirelessly to care for patients. They are a critical part of every hospital, revered for their dedication and compassion.

We have all heard or read stories of nurses putting the needs of patients before their own. This fact came into sharp view this past year as news reports filled with stories and images of nurses caring for patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

As public health experts learned more about the coronavirus, the public was engulfed by waves of uncertainty, yet nurses around the world performed their jobs heroically during the unfolding crisis.

Early on we saw exhausted nurses in China and Seattle, then New York City and across the U.S., in Italy, the United Kingdom and Brazil. Last week we saw images of nurses in India working hard to care for a growing number of infected patients who now represent the worst global outbreak yet of COVID-19.

Despite different countries, hospitals and conditions, great nurses all share common attributes. They are caring and empathetic, and are natural problem solvers who pay attention to details. They advocate for patients, are critical thinkers and are always willing to learn. And they have stamina and a sense of humor – crucial traits in a high-stress profession.

In my three years at Barton Health, I’ve had the pleasure of working with and leading a dedicated team of nurses who embody these traits. While we come from many walks of life and hold many different beliefs, we all share a common commitment to care for and improve the life of every patient who walks through our doors.

Health care has undergone tremendous change since many of us began our nursing career and the past year has taught us that change is now constant. We know how quickly we must adapt in a crisis and how resilient we must be to withstand one.

Our profession isn’t done changing any more than we’re done with this pandemic. But we are still here, every day, caring for patients in this community with unwavering dedication.

While COVID consumed much of our time and care this year, our nurses also provided compassionate care to all of the non-COVID patients who needed them. To each of the nurses at Barton: thank you for the privilege of watching you care for all in the community with expertise, compassion and dedication.

If a nurse has made a difference in your life, please thank them this Nurses’ Week.

Julie Clayton, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, is chief nursing officer at Barton Health.

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