Hi, all. The CEO of our organization posts a weekly essay that is usually very inspirational to me. Last week he posted a rerun of one of his "meditations" for nurse's week called "The Mapmakers" which I found very touching, and with his permission, I would like to share it with everyone. When he first wrote this, it was the one and only year that nurse's hadn't hit the number one spot for most respected profession in the Gallup polls because of 9/11. This message is a warm, and appreciative one, and a one I'd like us all to take with us,not just this week but throughout the year and in the years to come:
National Nurses Week 2009: The Mapmakers
Note: Beginning yesterday and running through Tuesday, May 12, healthcare organizations in the United States are celebrating National Nurses Week in honor of Florence Nightingale, the founder of nursing as a modern profession. A reflection that we published in Monday Meditations in 2003 about nurses has been much appreciated and republished by other organizations. So, in honor of National Nurses Week, an encore presentation of The Mapmakers.
"Here be dragons," is the cautionary message that explorers and mapmakers would write just beyond the borders of the new worlds depicted on the maps they made of their journeys. Or, "Here be Lions." Short, cryptic messages meant to convey the danger of the unknown, the uncertain fate that awaited those who journeyed too far, and the mystery of uncharted regions. I have always suspected that sometimes the ancient adventurers just got tired of trying to explain all that they had seen: who would believe it anyway? One wonders what tales mapmakers told each other when no one else was listening. One can only imagine the adventures obscured by the calligraphy at the edge of the page.
National Nurses Week--an opportunity to show our appreciation for the contributions made by nurses. (May 12, is Florence Nightingale's birthday.) There are 1.7 million nurses in the United States, and roughly 1/3 of the workforce at Adventist HealthCare are nurses. Ours is an organization that benefits every day--actually, every minute--from the contributions that nurses make. And ranking right up there among those contributions is this one: they are mapmakers. Explorers. Brave adventurers at the leading edge of healthcare.
The singular skill a nurse brings to the job is an artful combination of science, observation, organization, and action. Nurses traverse the landscape of recovery--the mountains and the valleys, the highs and lows. They chart the longitude and latitude of a patient's progress with as much accuracy as possible, and mark the twists and turns as faithfully as the explorers marked the course of a river or the curve of the shoreline.
A nurse is aware of the landmarks and borders--the relational, personal, important markers in an individual's life. Recently the nurses in one of our facilities learned that a terminally ill woman wanted more than anything to live to see her daughter's wedding, but her condition had put her dream beyond her reach. Working with her daughter and the families, the nurses arranged for the wedding ceremony to be held in the hospital room, complete with minister, music, cake, and guests. It was the mountain this mother wanted to climb, and the milestone she wanted to reach; the nurses who cared for her helped her reach her goal. In a landscape of loss the landmark they found was joy.
A nurse shares the journeys of life with those whose journeys are often difficult. It is not uncommon to hear a nurse speak of "my patients," or a patient to speak of "my nurse." In a recent Gallup opinion poll, only firefighters ranked higher than nurses for honesty and integrity. Nurses are the kind of fellow travelers you want with you on a difficult journey.
And finally, nurses seem to somehow know that the shoreline is not only where the water ends and the land begins, but it is also where the land joins the sea. They are witnesses to the ebb and flow of life--from the joys of birth to the deep sorrows that accompany death and loss. They have been to the edge of the maps, they've seen the dragons, and they've brought the wisdom that comes from the journey back to us. Their maps are a guide for us, and their lives inspire us.