PAULMENO: Nurse Deliver Care with Competence and Compassion: May I challenge your idea of a nurse?

Submitted by Dr. Stephanie Paulmeno, DNP, MS, RN, NHA, CPH, CCM, CDP President, CT Nurses Association

As President of the Connecticut Nurses Association I want to take this
occasion of National Nurses Month, Week and Day (May 12) to congratulate all of our nurses and our nursing workforce team. I thank you for your outstanding care and dedication not only during National Nurses Week, but throughout this year and every year. In 2019 the World Health Organization declared 2020: The Year of the Nurse! Perhaps they were prophetic in decreeing this before the coronavirus pandemic impacted us; maybe they were just acknowledging the very essence of nursing that has turned out to be exemplified during this deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Care with competence and compassion is what nursing is all about.

It is what nursing has always been all about! This is on display and tugging at our heartstrings every evening now on TV as we witness nursing leadership, competence and courage during the deadly pandemic.

I also want to thank the people and businesses of Greenwich who have been so diligent in recognizing and so publicly appreciating the work of nurses as well as that of all the rest of our front-line workers during these trying times.

Healthcare is a “team sport.” Nurses play a key role on that team and nursing leadership is seen at every level of practice. Leaders are not found only at the top of hierarchies. Nursing remains THE health profession whose educational core incorporates the roles and basic bodies of
knowledge of all other healthcare professionals; this includes health observation and assessment, normal and abnormal anatomy and physiology, human development, psychology and sociology.
Nurses must master inorganic and organic chemistry, biology, microbiology and infection control. The arduous course of nursing study includes medical ethics and leadership, nutrition (with the dreaded Krebs cycle), drug classifications and use/pharmacology; disaster response,
and public, population and community health. This course intensity is what makes nurses highly competent, versatile and adaptable as clinicians, as care/discharge planning coordinators and as administrators at every level. Advanced nursing degrees include Masters of Nursing, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Advanced Practice Nurses (APRNs) who are independent practitioners.

We also have a variety of nursing Doctoral degrees. Was this in your framework when you thought about nurses?

Nurses are by far the largest group of healthcare professionals in Connecticut as well as in the country. In Connecticut alone there are 87,769 actively licensed LPNs, RNs, APRNs, Nurse Midwives and Nurse Anesthesiologists (CT-DPH).

The Connecticut Nurses Association represents them all and we proudly serve as the advocate for, and the voice of, nurses. In addition we have 34,063 Certified Nurses’ Aides and Home Health Aides who work under nursing supervision. They are essential, hardworking and valued members of our team. One in every 36 nurses is a registered voter in Connecticut; when nurses talk, people listen! Our numbers speak volumes. By contrast, there are 18,669 licensed Physicians and 2,964 licensed Physicians Assistants who work under them.

May is a good month to remind ourselves that it is the nurse who is with you at birth, offering care and compassion to you and your loved ones as death approaches; and who supports you; holds your hand while sometimes crying with you and guiding you through uncertainty during some of the most frightening existential health crises of one’s; life. It is surely not by chance that in the annual National Gallup Polls (National Gallup Polls-Nurses) nurses are consistently rated by people across America as the most ethical, honest and trusted professionals year after year.

Nurses are to be found everywhere, in healthcare and non-healthcare settings alike; in homeless shelters and on the streets, in industry, research and teaching institutions; and in health-systems administration and healthcare reform. Nurses work across the age-span, across cultures, and across varied specialty fields of practice. These include public, population and community health; forensic nursing and in the justice system; we are in environmental health and school nursing, and school-based health clinics. Nurses are actively involved in elected public offices
and policy development at many levels where they contribute on Boards, Commissions, Task Forces and Work Groups.

I want to recognize and thank our Next Door Old Greenwich (and beyond) nurses who answered my shout-out to join our Nurses Group on this site; several nurses’ schedules allowed them to assist our COVID-19 battle as volunteers with our Greenwich Medical Reserve Corp that is operated through our Greenwich Department of Health! Thank you! Thank you!

I am so proud to be President of the Connecticut Nurses Association during the pandemic era where nursing and our nurses are shining brightly for all to see. We always have, but now the barrel is off our light. I hope never again to hear a nurse say, “I’m just a nurse”. Thank you and
congratulations to all nurses and our nursing workforce during 2020: The Year of the Nurse!