It happened a few weeks ago when someone asked me which doctor delivered my twins — I couldn’t remember. The whole thing was a blur, as is usually the case with an emergency C-section. But, three years later, I do remember the names of the NICU nurses who cared for them for nearly a month.
Of course, I would never downplay the excellent work the physicians did in assessing the situation, making a difficult decision, and carrying out a successful operation. That’s what doctors do — they weigh all the necessary factors, and treat the condition.
Nurses, on the other hand, treat people.
That’s why I remember that it was Eileen who sat with me during my daughter’s echocardiogram. Ester and Carole spent hours helping me transition the babies from tube feedings to bottles. Kathy helped me hold both of them for the first time. When I was home getting rest and wanted an update, Rowena would tell me how many milliliters they had at each feeding. When we were finally ready to go home, I knew I would miss them all tremendously.
These nurses went above and beyond — not just by doing things like teaching me how to change a diaper while navigating through monitor wires, but by talking to me, listening to me, and asking how I was feeling.
It’s funny; when I tell people about the experience I had, the response I hear most often is, “That’s nurses for you. That’s what they do.”
That tells me two things:
- The bar has been set so high for nurses and the care they provide, that people simply expect it. It’s become part of the job description to double as a counselor and friend.
And although that’s certainly a positive, it also means this:
- Because we’ve come to expect so much from nurses, the work they do is often underappreciated.
To me, that’s unacceptable. Nurses are on the front lines doing the prep work and after care and offering constant support, all while trying to figure out the best way to incorporate IT into their workflow. They do it all, and they do it with compassion. We need to do a better job showing our gratitude to these special individuals.
And so, instead of just sharing my own experiences, I reached out to a few friends and asked them to express what nurses have meant to them. Here’s what I received:
Sarah Richardson, CIO, NCH Healthcare System:
“Our nurses are the heart of our healthcare system. They provide award-winning care and strive to ensure our patients longer, healthier, happier lives. Their desire to consistently apply evidenced-based knowledge, industry best practices, and advanced technology is a trifecta that sets the highest bar in patient care I have ever seen.”
Mike Mistretta, VP & CIO, Kaweah Delta Healthcare District
“Nurses are the backbone of healthcare. Their critical thinking skills are invaluable in everything we do, and translate directly to just about every facet in our industry. They have a unique ability to break down problems into manageable component and the ability to multi-task makes them extremely productive. Their skills are a must have on any system implementation.”
Anne Lara, CIO, Union Hospital of Cecil County:
“Nurses play a crucial role in advancing the healthcare industry as they are well positioned to 1) identify the need for new innovative technologies in clinical practice; 2) maximize the utilization of technological advancements in daily workflows; and 3) safeguard patients from potential harm related to the implementation of novel technologies.”
James Wellman, CIO, Comanche County Memorial Hospital
“Nursing is the core of healthcare in my opinion. I have been so fortunate over the years to work with nurses who have helped guide me in my role to implement IT into healthcare. They act as liaisons for IT, clinicians, patients and families, and we could not be successful without them.”
Jaime Parent, Associate CIO & VP of IT Operations, Rush University Medical Center:
“Once I had the chance to visit a palliative and hospice care service. Each nurse I spoke to said that the reason they worked in this area was because they felt it was the place for them to be. This is why, in my view, nursing is not a profession, it is a calling.”
It’s quite telling that some of the busiest people took time out of their schedules to show appreciation for nurses. And so, during National Nurses Week, I urge everyone to do the same, whether it’s by reading or sharing some of the excellent blog pieces featured on HIMSS’ website, speaking at a nursing meeting, or simply pulling a nurse aside and saying, ‘Thank you.’
I know I will.