‘National Nursing Week’ shines light on nurses’ responsibilities

Caring for the elderly and lopsided patient-to-nurse ratios are two important issues facing nurses.

Coming from a family full of nurses, senior nursing student Brittany Rall knows the importance of this week.

Tuesday marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, an annual week honoring nurses around the country. Rall’s mother is a nurse, and to celebrate, she is buying gifts for the nurses she works with, Rall said.

It’s not only Rall and her mother – a grandmother, two aunts and an uncle call themselves nurses in her family.

According to the American Nurses Association, there are more than 2.4 million nurses working in the United States.

Rall said she thinks nurses make up an important part of the health care industry.

“The work that we do is like the most intimate care you can give somebody,” she said. “I think that kind of care is important.”

Rall said she thinks one of the most important issues facing the nursing field is care for the elderly.

“The cases are so complicated,” she said. “That kind of complex care takes a lot of time and is very hard Ö that’s going to be the big challenge – trying to provide the best care for all.”

Senior nursing student Laura Bell said Nursing Week will shine light on nurses’ responsibilities.

“People don’t always understand what nurses actually do,” she said. “To have this week devoted to appreciating nurses brings attention to us and what we do and how valuable we are to society.”

For Bell, the most pressing problems in nursing today are heavy workloads and lopsided patient-to-nurse ratios.

A bill in the Minnesota Legislature to address the issue has been tabled for this session, Jan Rabbers, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Nurses Association, said. They will likely pursue the issue next year.

Rall said she did a project on nurse understaffing this year.

“The safety of the nurse and the safety of the patient are at risk,” she said.

Bell, also the president of the University Nursing College Board, said she plans on attending seminars and meeting with prominent nurses near campus to mark the week.

One event taking place this week separate from Nurses Week itself is a promotion for a new book about pregnancy.

Nursing professor Melissa Avery said the topic of the book relates to nursing in the sense that they share the same principles – educating women about pregnancy and their health.

Avery said she thinks nurses don’t get the attention others in the health care industry do.

“Sometimes in day-to-day media or day-to-day work in the health care field, their work is not always recognized to the degree that it probably should be,” she said.

Rall said she thinks nurses simply do a different type of job.

“Doctors are problem-solvers, and I think nurses are caregivers,” she said.