Thank a nurse: May 6-12 is National Nurses Week

Published 11:08 am Tuesday, May 8, 2018

We all know about the first Saturday in May. The Run for the Roses is the most exciting two minutes in sports. As the winning thoroughbred makes his way down the stretch, he may be in the best health of his life. For those spectators who reside here in Kentucky, this may not be the case. It’s a well-known fact that Kentuckians have incredibly high rates of heart disease, cancer and diabetes – just to name a few of the chronic illnesses that plague our citizens. There is a group of professionals dedicated to changing the odds that deserve our appreciation for their care, support and unwavering commitment to making it better.

The day after Derby is about more than thousands of visitors leaving our state. Sunday kicked off National Nurses Week. This special week, that runs through May 12, gives us the opportunity to thank the more than 80,000 nurses across the Commonwealth who work tirelessly to help us live healthier lives. These are the professionals that help bring babies into the world, tend to sick children until their parents can come to pick them up at school, offer healthcare solutions in the workplace, health departments, hospitals and nursing homes. They also provide comfort and support as the end of life draws near.

What many may not know is that nurses are at the forefront of legislation that affects all Kentuckians such as the cigarette tax, anti-violence research and protecting nurse practitioners’ ability to provide medical care in all 87 of Kentucky’s Health Provider Shortage Areas (HPSAs). As the Hepatitis A virus reaches epidemic proportions not seen in the state for decades, members of the Kentucky Nurses Association are volunteering their time to administer vaccines to restaurant workers and the general public across the Louisville Metropolitan area and in other parts of the state.

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The nursing shortage in Kentucky is a well-known and much discussed topic of concern for us all; however, nurse educators in our colleges and universities are dedicated to changing this through innovative learning opportunities for traditional and non-traditional students such as online learning, nursing residency programs and tuition assistance. Healthcare providers, often with nurses in leadership positions, are stepping up to the plate as well by offering loan-repayment and continuing education programs.

After you put your Derby hat back in its box and hang up your dress or sear sucker blazer, we invite you to take this week to pause for moment to thank a nurse. Even money says that good nursing care, leadership, advocacy and education is a sure bet for all Kentuckians.

Delanor Manson, MA, BSN, RN, is executive director of the Kentucky Nurses Association/Kentucky Nurses Foundation.