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Nurses: Building a healthy America

So the slogan goes from The National Nurses Association. For the most part, that's the core mission of nursing. From where I'm sitting as a veteran nurse of 30 something years, nursing has taken a backseat to the ills affecting the world's economy. Sure, President Obama has shone a much needed spotlight on healtcare issues as they reference the lack of medical and healthcare insurance and the devastating effects this omission has on the sick and elderly in our country. Allocating healthcare for everyone in America is, in my opinion, one of the most important decisions coming out of the White House.  Yet, on a more personal front, I have to question, What about nurses? Why does it seem that we're being left out in the cold?

May 6-12 is designated Nurse Appreciation Week. It is when folks say thanks for all that you do to help save lives, educate families and provide comfort and guidance where it's needed when loved ones become ill. I'm not whining here, believe me. We have taken an oath of compassion of sorts as nurses when we go into the field of healthcare. We lend our services and expertise in all areas: hospitals, schools, nursing homes, clinics and even homeless shelters. We are home health/visiting and private duty nurses, coming to render care in the privacy and comfort of your sanctuary.  We work long hours at hospitals in emergency rooms, speciality units like cardiac, labor & delivery, Alheizmer's and substance abuse.

The demographics of nursing have changed. America knows this. There is an increasing demand for nurses. There is a nursing shortage due in part to aging, as baby boomers like myself are ready and willing to hand over the gauntlet to younger nurses. Pay/compensation remains borderline as the economy fights to gain its economic footing; nurses have no nest egg to retire on, unless they happen to work for the government, or have bought into shares of growth for their retirement, like the 401(k) plan. Job dissatisfaction overall has contributed to the lack of nurses as well. And let's not forget that younger generations are vying for other career opportunities. 

Question: How many of you took time out from your day to wish a nurse "Happy Nurses Day"? Not to worry, there's still time to do that. May 12th is officially the last day, which is also the birthday of one Florence Nightingale...go figure.

Sources: Health Resources and Services Administration and American Nurses Association.