“As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, soul and body of our patients, their families and ourselves. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
This week it was announced that for the 23rd year running, nurses are Australia’s most highly regarded profession.
Nurses were rated as ‘very high’ or ‘high’ for their ethics and honesty by 94 per cent of Australians, up two per cent from last year.
In the history of the survey, no other profession has ever rated higher than 89 per cent.
Following nurses, were doctors, pharmacists, school teachers and then engineers.
And last place has been reserved for the same profession every single year since 1976, which was the first year the survey was conducted.
Unsurprisingly, it’s car salesmen.
LISTEN: Meshel Laurie speaks to a palliative care nurse on The Nitty Gritty Committee. Post continues below.
Interestingly, these results are not at all unique to Australia.
Nurses are ranked as the most ethical, honest, respected and trustworthy workers just about everywhere in the world. And that’s because it takes a special kind of person to choose to spend their lives caring for other people at their weakest – the old, the young, the sick, the broken and the mourning.
Nursing is not glamorous. There’s no Academy Awards for changing bed sheets, checking blood pressure or comforting a grieving family.
There is no medal for asking a 90-year-old dying of cancer how they are today or explaining a complicated diagnosis.
There are no trophies for the nurses who stay back to speak to a patient struggling with their mental health, or a pregnant woman who is panicking.
You cannot measure how well a human being cares for another human being, or how effectively they counsel the dying.
Female nurses and midwives are three times more likely to die by suicide than women in other professions. For males, the rate is one-and-a-half.
For the 360,000 nurses in Australia, there is an enormous amount of pressure, emotional demand and responsibility. The job requires long hours, often shift work, with few breaks. They are also absurdly underpaid.
Registered nurse Sharee Rayner spoke to the ABC earlier this year, and said it is a "privilege" to be part of a family's most intimate moments.
“For that short amount of time, the family treats you like one of their own," she said.
“We get to be a part of life coming into the world, and people leaving the world."
But Rayney also said the guilt "gets to you".
"I haven’t walked the dog, I haven’t cooked my child a meal in three days... You’re there looking after patients, making sure they are safe, nurtured, fed and given emotional support then you go home and walk in the door and the kids ask what is for dinner.
“Sometimes it just feels like everyone wants a piece of you.”
Nursing draws compassionate people, who routinely put others before themselves.
This week, following the entirely unsurprising research released by Roy Morgan, it's worth acknowledging that without nurses, society as we know it would fall apart. And we don't stop and say thank you enough.
So - sincerely, from the people who will inevitably one day need you - thank you.
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