This week is National Nurses Week. From May 6th-12th every year in the United States the work, care, and dedication of nurses is celebrated and honored. Celebrating this week is very important. Though I have found myself reflecting more this year on the future of nursing. I think the theme this year fits fantastically.
We all know caring as a ubiquitous descriptor when the work of nursing professionals is discussed. Advocacy is an important, vital role that is part of our professional scope and it is rarely seen or described in the public eye. Being a leader is one of the most important professional expectations we need to embrace as our profession continues to grow and adapt.
Leading is one of the greatest professional practice characteristics of nursing and it isn’t harnessed or celebrated nearly enough.
Everyone looks to the obvious leaders in healthcare for direction and answers in the care of patients. As nurses however, we have the greatest opportunity to establish ourselves as the true leaders through maintaining patient safety, cost containment, and practice expertise.
We all know that the best leaders aren’t necessarily the ones that talk the loudest, the fastest, or the most. Leaders aren’t just the prescribers, attending practitioners, or the ones that write orders. Leaders set the tone and create the environment for the delivery of care. Leaders set the expectations for safety, quality, initiative, stability, and healing. Leaders are nurses.
Nurses have the utmost ability and discretion to control the environment in which patients receive care. Our leadership abilities in all patient care situations ensure consistent safe patient care. We maintain excellence by verifying name bands and allergy bands on every patient every time. By practicing and demanding hand hygiene from every person that enters our patients room. Nursing leaders set and establish care and practice standards within the walls of health care organizations. Being active participants in rounds, we lead by demonstrating our commitment to developing an individualized plan of care. We lead through our expectation and appreciation of family centered care and involving patients and families in developing the plan of care. We lead through our ability to advocate for the wishes of our patients. Most importantly, we demonstrate leadership through how we educate and empower future nursing generations.
Change is the only constant that you can depend on in health care. As both economic and health priorities change for patients, providers, and organizations; nursing care will remain the constant. As the future of health care rolls on, it should be the expectation that nurses embrace leadership roles and work to continue to effectively control costs and make the delivery of care more efficient. Standing on the front lines we have the experience and knowledge to lead and need to proudly position ourselves as leaders.
As for celebrating nurses week…. I’m spending it in the trenches where it seems most appropriate.
Thank you to all of you for the work you do, to my lovely co-workers for celebrating with me, and to my patients for giving me a reason to be proud of the work I do.
Happy Nurses Week!