Yesterday, May 6, started National Nurses Week, with the stated goal to “celebrate the role nurses play in delivering the highest level of quality care to their patients.”
When my dad was in the hospital last fall after open-heart surgery, I had a first-hand look at the tireless work his nurses did. They attended to him, checked on him, gave him his medicine, paid attention to him, talked to him (even when he wasn’t responsive), encouraged him. All in a days work for someone that’s pulling a 12 hour shift after dealing with whatever they had to deal with at home, and out in life in general. It can’t be easy. In fact, A 2014 survey of more than 3,000 nurses found respondents to be stressed out, underslept and — at least in their own estimation — underpaid.
But what struck me was not only the care those nurses at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital showed my Dad, it’s how they engaged with me and my mom. We’re going to the hospital everyday, staying for hours. So much, so often, you start to figure out the shifts, and know who would be there before you even arrived. They were the friendly face when your loved one has tubes coming out of him. They’re they one you talk with, hoping for an encouraging word about Dad. As much as their knowledge is required for your loved one, their compassion and personality means just as much for the relative or caregiver.
About five years ago, I had the pleasure of shooting a story about a local nurse. I’m a bit hazy now on what the whole story was – heck, it could have been for Nurses Week as well. But I got the chance to spend the morning with Katie, watch her go through a part of her day. I saw the compassion she did show to her patients…all the while flipping the switch to speak professionally with a doctor or grind through the mound of paperwork she always seemed to be getting back to.
We’ve had some nurses in our family, but I just don’t hear about too many people pursing that vocation anymore. Everyone, it seems, wants to get into digital media or something like that.
But god help us if we lose those folks with the passion to do those jobs that really need to get done – the cops and firemen and nurses and doctors. Where will we be?
Just before leaving Katie’s floor, I wanted one last “hero image”. A quick and dirty portrait with my Canon Speedlight, but I think I got it.
So, thanks to all the nurses out there. While you deserve more than a week of recognition for the work you do, you also deserve your gratitude.
(c)Mark Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | 2015