Note: This is a few days late. I have been busy with Mother's Day, work, and life.
For those of you who do not know who the above lady is, let me educate you.
Born May 12, 1820 to affluent British parents in Florence, Italy. She grew to buck tradition, and her family, and became a nurse. This was unseemly at the time for a proper British lady of her stature. Florence always brushed this off, saying that she was called by God to nursing.
She went on to further the stature and practice of nursing in the Crimean War.
Finally in 1860 she formed the first secular nursing school in the world at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, making Florence Nightingale the most prominent person in founding my present profession.
For more info, read her Wiki page here.
While some still look upon a man in nursing as being a little suspect or even charming, I unashamedly pay homage to the founder of my profession.
As some may remember, my grandmother died last August. She was in and out of the hospital over the last couple of years of her life. My dad always sang the praises of the nurses caring for her. He even took a couple of big bags of popcorn up as a snack one night for them. (Note: if you want to thank a nurse, give food. We love food).
At the end she was in the hospital and on a ventilator - a breathing machine for life support.
I went to see her one last time and spent the afternoon in the room with her. I got back home, we live across the state, and talked to my father on the phone and he decided - with the blessing of my Physician brother and I and the rest of our family - to withdraw life-support. We all agreed that she was not going to recover and we were only prolonging her life and possible discomfort.
I got some sleep and then drove back across the state to be with my family when they withdrew the ventilator later that day.
Through all of this I was on the other side of the health care relationship. I am always the one with the answers. Always there to help ease a family into their decision and help them deal with the consequences of this choice. Always there with assurances that they did the right thing, it was what their loved one would want, they're at peace now, etc.
Sitting there in the room with no control over the situation and no tasks to perform, I only had time to sit back and watch the nurses.
I am never one to blow my own horn. In fact, it is one of the reasons I have not furthered my career from being "just a nurse". I am a charge nurse and would rather my staff get the credit. In my mind I am just dong my job.
Sitting there in my grandmother's room I was amazed at what an incredible service we provide for our patients. However I am perceived at the end of my career, I will always be indebted to those who serve now and those who came before me.
Thank a nurse the next time you have the occasion and join me in wishing Florence Nightingale a belated birthday, she left an incredible legacy in all who wear the uniform.