Happy Nurses Week to all of the dedicated nurses who work so hard to make a difference day in, day out. Given the crucial role nurses play in patients’ lives, in healthcare settings and in the U.S. healthcare landscape overall, this year’s “Nurses: Leading the Way” theme is an appropriate one.
“All nurses are leaders,” says Karen A. Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association, “whether they are in direct patient care, administrative roles or meeting consumers’ needs in new roles such as care coordinators or wellness coaches.”
Over the past year, nurses have played pivotal role in educating the public about the Affordable Care Act and how to obtain insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Several hundred nurses, members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), visited downtown Pittsburgh one afternoon last fall to talk to passersby about the healthcare law, address misperceptions and answer questions people might have. In Washington state, SEIU nurses like Vanessa Patricelli, RN, released videos explaining how the Affordable Care Act protects patients’ rights and reminding patients to sign up for health coverage before the March 31 enrollment deadline.
Now that the enrollment deadline has passed, nurses are addressing changes brought about by the healthcare law in their daily practice. A big one: the increase in newly covered patients.
“We’re continuing to rely on nurses to help educate patients, some of whom had never had health insurance before, on how to use their newly acquired coverage to get the vital preventive and primary care they need,” notes Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. “Nurses are also helping patients use new health information technology tools to manage their own care and ultimately improve their health.”
Every day, nurses are leading the way in quieter-yet-no-less-powerful moves, too. In 2013 alone, more than 175 nurses received The Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses at participating hospitals across the country. Established by The Daisy Foundation, the award acknowledges the “superhuman work nurses do for patients and families every day.”
Such examples are beautiful and inspiring, but they’re not uncommon. Look around you—look in the mirror—and you’re likely going to see more examples of superhuman nurses who do extraordinary things often.
Nurses Week is your week. So whether you’re offered a complementary meal, chair massage or CE opportunity, whether you’re invited to a blessing-of-the-hands ceremony or a nursing awards gala, we hope you accept it. Even more, we hope you own it!
In doing so, celebrate the nurses of the past who have paved the way for nurses today. Celebrate the nurses who are working right now to better the healthcare experience of patients. Celebrate the nurses of tomorrow who are in schools learning how to meet the healthcare demands of the future.