Today is National Nurses Day, the beginning of National Nurses Week.

There is a phrase I hear quite frequently from patients when talking to them about the care they have received in one of our hospitals. “My nurse,” they will say, and then tell me something that has happened, or some quality that they appreciated about “their nurse.” Whenever I hear that simple phrase, “my nurse,” used in an appreciative way, I know that the care being given is making a difference.  And I hear it a lot.

There’s another phrase I hear, too—this one from nurses. “One of my patients,” the statement will start, and will continue with an anecdote, an observation of a specific need, or a recounting of something “their patient” had done or said. And when I hear that phrase, “my patient,” I know that we are doing something right, because personal relationships are being forged between our patients and their caregivers.

Among the personal and professional qualities nurses bring to healthcare, one of the most important is their capacity to move care from the transactional to the relational. They create force fields of care that can be comforting, energizing, soothing, encouraging, and transforming. From observing nurses at work and in life for many years (I married a nurse) I know that nurses are constantly seeking to respond in ways that will be most helpful and appropriate for their patients.  Sometimes they are all business, objective and clinical. Sometimes they are sympathetic and consoling. Sometimes they are directive and stern. Always they are compassionate and caring.

Healthcare without nurses is unimaginable.  Their competency, experience, and commitment are at the very heart of our work.  National Nurses Day is Friday, May 6, and anchors Nurse’s Week, culminating in the commemoration of Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12. It is a small way for all of us to show our gratitude to the thousands of nurses who are an important part of Adventist HealthCare, as well as to recognize the contributions of the 3.1 million nurses here in the United States.

I am thankful and indebted to the nurses within our company who know how to get to “my.” They make a difference every day in the lives of our patients, and in our success in caring for our communities.