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Call for respect

National Nurses
Week draws attention in the wake of Senator’s comments

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

Celebrated each year in May, National Nurses Week may have been one of the most significant this year, thanks to the derogatory comments of state senator, Maureen Walsh, a Republican, made on the Senate floor on April 16 while denouncing a bill that would allow nurses to get mandatory, uninterrupted meal and rest breaks.
Walsh’s suggestion that nurses “probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day” resulted in outrage on both sides of the aisle and met with backlash by nurses around the country.
A nurse in Chicago, Juliana Bindas, 27, reportedly started a petition on Change.org asking Ms. Walsh to spend a day shadowing a nurse so she could gain a deeper understanding of a nurse’s basic shift. Walsh has since made some corrections to her comments indicating that she will accept the invitation.
Not missing a beat to express his dismay Tennessee State Representative Timothy Hill’s (R-Blountville) led the charge on the disapproval and outrage over Walsh’s comments, in a letter, including a deck of playing cards, signed by his colleagues to the Washington Senator.
To put things in perspective National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
These permanent dates enhance planning and position National Nurses Week as an established recognition event.
As of 1998, May 8 was designated as National Student Nurses Day, to be celebrated annually. And as of 2003, National School Nurse Day is celebrated on the Wednesday within National Nurses Week (May 6-12) each year.
The nursing profession has been supported and promoted by the American Nurses Association (ANA) since 1896. Each of ANA’s state and territorial nurses associations promotes the nursing profession at the state and regional levels, and each conducts celebrations on these dates to recognize the contributions that nurses and nursing make to the community.
It is noteworthy that in 1954 National Nurse Week was observed from October 11 – 16. The year of the observance marked the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea. Representative Frances P. Bolton sponsored the bill for a nurse week. A bill for a National Nurse Week was introduced in the 1955 Congress, but no action was taken. Congress discontinued its practice of joint resolutions for national weeks of various kinds.
1981 ANA, along with various nursing organizations, rallied to support a resolution initiated by nurses in New Mexico, through their Congressman, Manuel Lujan, to have May 6, 1982, established as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”
1982 In February, the ANA Board of Directors formally acknowledged May 6, 1982 as “National Nurses Day.” The action affirmed a joint resolution of the United States Congress designating May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”
Another important event interestingly follows the special week of appreciation for nurses across the nation; National Women’s Health Week, scheduled this year for May 12- 18.
The Tennessee Department of Health has joined the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health in celebrating National Women’s Health Week. The nationwide initiative brings awareness to the importance of women’s health and empowers women to take small, manageable steps for longer, healthier and happier lives.
“So often as women we put the health and wellness of our loved ones first, but it’s never too early or late for women to make time for their own health,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “During National Women’s Health Week, we urge women to talk with their health care providers about which screenings and tests are right for them when they should have them and how often.”
Simple steps to take charge of one’s own health include engaging in healthy behaviors such as avoiding smoking; wearing a seatbelt and not texting while driving; paying attention to mental health, including managing stress and getting enough sleep and visiting a health care professional for regular checkups and preventive screenings, said the TDH.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.