Four Million

Four Million

Four million. That is the number of registered nurses in the U.S. according to American Nurses Association. That number is expectedly much higher when counting Licensed Practical Nurses and Nurse Practitioners. Considered a selfless career (vocation), nurses are some of the hardest working and least recognized health care providers. They are caregivers we inherently trust and confide in; they are advocates and defenders of people at their most vulnerable. It’s no wonder a whole week is dedicated to acknowledging this honorable group of people: Nurses Week runs from May 6 to May 12, which coincides with Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

If you don’t know a nurse, you soon will. They work in clinics and hospitals, in long-term care facilities and nursing homes, they work in doctors offices and insurance companies, they even work privately in people’s homes. The profession comprises of a spectrum of specializations and generalizations: some nurses dedicate their lives to caring for people recovering from surgery, and others to caring for people with chronic illness. Unfortunately, a nursing shortage is imminent in the U.S. As the population ages, more people will need medical attention, routine or otherwise. States like California and Texas have reported shortages of 45k and 16k, respectively. A compounding concern is the issue of compensation: starting salaries for nurses vary, and often are not commensurate with the time dedicated to studying and getting licensed. The public will need more nurses, and Higher Education is taking notice. Programs are accommodating working professionals, with flexible schedules and financial assistance, in order to facilitate completion of nursing programs and licensing exams.

This Nurses Week, thank all nurses. Nurses are healthcare practitioners who make split-second decisions over critical care needs, they listen intently to their patients, and selflessly dedicate a lifetime of caring for others.