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National Nurses Week recognizes the value of skilled caregivers

Wearing needed protective gear, Jinifer Mondovics RN, of Mountain City(right) and Christy Smith LPN (left) pause for a photo to express some love for their patients earlier this week. The two are among millions of nurses and first responders who are on the frontlines in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses around the nation enjoyed some much-needed and well-deserved appreciation during National Nurses Week. Thanks, Christy and Jinifer, for all you do. Submitted photo

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

National Nurses Week takes on a whole new meaning this year as now, more than ever. It is the time to thank them as they work on the frontline fighting the coronavirus. The World Health Organization has designated 2020 as “The Year of the Nurse.” And for a good reason. With more than 3.1 million registered nurses practicing nationwide, they comprise the largest segment of the healthcare workforce and represent one of the fastest-growing professions in the country.  Nurses are providers of hospital, in-office, home-based, and long-term care – and often work long hours to care for their patients.

National Nurses Week is set aside to recognize outstanding nurses. Nursing continues to be one of the most in-demand professions and as Baby Boomers age and the need for health care grows, the shortage of nurses is expected to intensify. Not only are experienced nurses retiring at a rapid rate, there are not enough new nursing graduates to replenish the workforce. The American Nurses Association estimates the U.S. will need to produce more than one million new registered nurses by 2022 to fulfill the country’s health care needs.

The annual festivities, supported by the American Nurses Association (ANA), kick off with National Nurses Day on May 6 and close on May 12th, which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who has been called “the founder of modern nursing.” First instituted in 1953, National Nurses Week celebrates the contributions nurses have made for the medical profession, and encourages recognition of nurses and nursing students for their tireless work. The theme for this year’s National Nurses Week is “Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence.

People make the decision to pursue nursing for various reasons, but for Amy Henson, currently with Johnson County Medical Group, the reason was personal.

“I decided to pursue nursing when my brother was in the hospital,” said Henson, “and I saw what a difference a kind, caring nurse could make for the patient and the family.”
Teresa Ransom, who started working as a nurse in the operating room at Watauga Medical Center in Boone in 2001, explains she originally wanted to go into veterinary medicine, but when it was determined the school for that specialty was too far away, she chose to enter nursing. Ransom, who returned to Mountain City after her husband retired from the military, considers nursing a true calling.

“I love helping people through the rough parts of life,” she said.

Joannie McQueen, RN with Signature Healthcare, says it best. “It’s the hardest thing and the easiest thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “It’s everything I imagined, plus a lot I couldn’t have dreamed up in a million years.”