What Would Flo Think?

The last day of Nurses Week ends today on Florence Nightingale’s Birthday: May 12.

Florence Nightingale, 1820-1910, (CR Royaume-Uni)

Would Flo be surprised that a special day, May 6, had been dedicated to nurses in 1982, and in 1990, that day grew into a full week that ended on her birthday? Would she be pleased that the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as “The Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in honor of her 200th birth anniversary? Would she be happy to learn that this 2020 designation is significant because WHO is promoting nursing education that will increase the numbers of nurses and midwives in order to strengthen Universal Health Coverage?

What would Flo think of the modern nurses’ role in this Pandemic? Would she be reminded how she, during the Crimean War, campaigned for better care of the sick and wounded soldiers and for a higher standard of hygiene, which saved countless lives? I bet she would be proud to see that nurses are still campaigning for better conditions for their patients. And that they are speaking out for safe working conditions for all health care workers.

Continue reading “What Would Flo Think?”


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.

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