nurses make a difference

Nurses Week starts tomorrow, May 6, which is known as National Nurses Day and ends on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12th170px-Florence_Nightingale_by_Goodman,_1858

While I feel nurses deserve appreciation for their work 365 days a year, who am I to disregard an opportunity to spotlight actual nurses and their contribution to health and healing.  

I have previously blogged about The American Nurse Project, which shares photographs and narratives of nurses at work. The story of each nurse is moving and educational—telling the reader what nurses really do. Check this site, which singles out a few of the contributors.

For example, Jason Short (#6) states, “I have found that once you get a taste for helping people, it’s kind of addictive. You want to empower yourself to be more and more helpful.” So he’s back in school to become a nurse practitioner.

american nurse project

And Mary Helen Barletti (#13) who says, “How often does anybody get to come home from their job and know they saved someone’s life? Or, if I couldn’t save them, I stood at the bedside of a dying patient with my arm around the daughter who was losing her mother.”  She, also, has empowered herself to be more helpful by pursuing “additional education in Reiki healing techniques and in the spiritual needs of the dying.”

It’s probably no coincidence that a new book of stories written by nurses has been published just in time for Nurses Week: I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse: edited by Lee Gutkind.true stories of becoming a nurse

Again, like The American Nurse Project, real nurses tell their stories. They are harrowing and mesmerizing stories, spattered with guts and blood and antagonism toward the health care system’s bureaucracy but reflective of the real world nurses live in when they commit to helping their patients.

Lee Gutkind states in the Introduction, “Nurses tend to keep their experiences to themselves—-.”  Amen, brother.

However, we may be seeing an uptick in the willingness of nurses to share their stories.

It’s about time.


The American Nurse Project aims to elevate and celebrate nurses in this country by capturing their personal stories through photography and film. Photographer Carolyn Jones and her team traveled to every corner of the U.S. to record the unique experiences of nurses at work. The photographs and narratives shed light on what it means to be a nurse in our country, and who the women and men are who have pledged their lives to the care of others. It’s a story worth telling—it’s a story we all should hear.

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