This year, the theme for Nurses Week is Nurses: Making a Difference Every Day.
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Making a difference ranges from managing a patient's life-threatening health crisis to comforting him with a compassionate touch. Over time, each of us has, in many ways, made a difference. We must never underestimate the impact of our profession in the lives we touch.
One of my favorite stories illustrating this was told by the scientist and philosopher Loren Eiseley. One day, a man walking along the beach noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.
Approaching the boy, he asked, "What are you doing?"
The boy replied, "Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them back, they'll die."
"Son," the man said, "don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can't make a difference!!"
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, "I made a difference for that one."
This story reminds us all of the value of each life we touch as nurses. Each person is a unique source of inspiration to us as caregivers. Our patients leave their own special footprint in life and we can take pride in helping them on their journey.
Whether you're a direct care provider at the bedside, a nurse-educator, a nurse-researcher, or an administrator, you make a difference in the lives of others. That difference may be hard to measure day to day, but over our lifetime, you leave behind a legacy of caring and compassion.
Making a difference also means caring for yourself. Don't get so busy caring for others that you neglect your own needs. Remind a friend this May to get her annual screening mammogram-and, if you're a woman, make sure you get yours too.
Making a difference matters, for one starfish, for one child, for one person. Happy Nurses Week!!
Joanne M. Hambleton, RN, CNA, MSN
Vice President, Nursing and Patient Services, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pa.
Eiseley LC, The Unexpected Universe, Harcourt Brace and Company, 1969.