Celebrating Nurses Week

Nurses Week is May 6-12, 2019

By Judy Geiger, RN, BSN, MBA

Judy Geiger, Columbia Memorial Hospital, Astoria, Oregon

As I was doing some self-examination last November while contemplating moving to the North Coast and taking a new job, I really looked at myself and why I am a nurse. I was going to become a National Park Ranger and live my life in Yellowstone National Park. That was a bit naive. Not only would it have been years before being able to work in Yellowstone, the pay would have been terrible, and there was also the matter of a boy in my life. I chose nursing school on a whim. My mom always said if she hadn’t been a teacher, she would’ve been a nurse. I thought, “What the heck, I’ll apply.” I had no idea what I was getting into and how much I would love being a nurse. I was sure I would flunk out when we had to give IM injections or start IVs. I didn’t, and the door to an amazing career opened. I have so many wonderful patient stories that kept me going through years of nursing shortages, too many nurses and not enough jobs, difficult patients and all the change in healthcare.

When I decided to go into nursing leadership, I realized I wouldn’t get the same rewards that come from caring for patients. What I do get, however, is the satisfaction in watching a new nurse gain confidence and master his or her skills in patient care. Before I know it, that new grad is an expert in the unit. I get to watch a nurse take an idea they have and turn it into a new best practice. Best of all, I get to read the patient comments describing nurses going above and beyond to assure patients have an extraordinary experience and think I might have had a small part in making that happen.

Fast forward 35 years and the boy is still in my life and we have been married 31 years. I have found a new job in an incredible organization working with fabulous nurses. I am so proud to be a nurse and that I get to come to work every day alongside an amazing team. I made the right decision last November!

Our individual nursing stories are especially important as Nurses Week approaches. We are lucky to have had someone like Florence Nightingale as the founder of modern nursing. She elevated the role of nursing to be much more than a lowly job no one of any status would take. She showed the world what compassion looks like. Florence was also the first nurse to use data to make changes to the way patients were cared for. There might still not be a focus on handwashing and infection control without her. This year will be the 199th anniversary of her birth, a great reason to celebrate. We have some fun things planned for our nurses, including: hanging historical photos of nursing in one of our halls, purchasing CMH Nursing jackets for CNAs, nurses, NPs and CRNAs, enjoying cake and taking selfies with a cardboard cutout of Florence Nightingale. 

Happy Nurses Week 2019! Thank you for all you do. I am honored to call you nursing colleagues.