Let’s honour our nurses

Each night, thousands of Canadians across the country head to porches, balconies and windows to clap, cheer and generally make a ruckus in honour of the work of nurses and health-care practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, being Nursing Week across the globe, we expect to cheer even harder to help show our appreciation for all that our health-care workers do for us.

Nursing Week (May 11-17) highlights the enormous sacrifices and contributions of nurses, who work tirelessly to provide the care and attention patients need. The World Health Organization declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse, recognizing that nurses are central to addressing a wide range of health challenges in Canada and across the globe.

The week is chosen in honour of Florence Nightingale and her many contributions to nursing, including establishment of the first secular professional nursing school. Nightingale, in true nursing fashion, was on the front lines of the Crimean War, caring for injured and dying soldiers. The image of her carrying a lantern while she checked on the sleeping wounded is an enduring image that resonates with us.

Nightingale advocated for better health care for all facets of society, which is still true of nurses today. Nurses are experts in health care, responsible for comprehensive health assessments of patients, documentation of medications and allergies, and accessing services based on health coverage.

Nurses also inform and educate patients on test results, coordinate services and continuing care, and monitor infection control practices according to established standards.

In some provinces, including B.C. and Ontario, nurse practitioners can authorize medical cannabis for patients, helping to increase access to this alternative therapy.

It’s a short list that does not cover all that nurses do for us daily. So this week, cheer loudly and often – while keeping your physical distance – for our nurses and health-care providers!