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National Nurses Week lauds work of 3.1 million

April 30, 2012
SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Medical Center Emergency Department nurse Judith Brown, RN, of East Longmeadow was first attracted to the nursing profession through her mother's compassionate work as a private duty nurse.
"As a kid, I would sometimes accompany my mother when she was visiting her patients in their homes. I watched her taking care of them. They were very special people to her and she was so involved with them," Brown said.
"Later, while in high school, I had a job at a nursing home and became especially close to one person there. I've just always enjoyed helping people, especially those who don't have any family to help them or whose families just aren't involved," she added.
During National Nurses Week, May 6 through 12, the work of America's 3.1 million registered nurses like Brown to maintain the health of millions of individuals will be celebrated throughout Baystate Health and around the country. This year's theme, "Nurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring," is designed to raise awareness of the value of nursing — the nation's largest health care profession — and help educate the public about the role nurses play in meeting the health care needs of a diverse population.
After high school, Brown was a medic for nine years in the United States Air Force (USAF) and later served as a flight nurse for 14 years. Her 23 years in the Air Force included four years of active duty and 19 years in the USAF Reserve Nurse Corps.
Along the way, Brown earned her bachelor's degree in nursing from Old Dominion University. While earning her degree, she also kept busy on the civilian side working first in home care as a nurse's aide doing homemaker and companion work, and then after her degree as a home infusion nurse.
Sponsored by the American Nurses Association, National Nurses Week is devoted to highlighting the many ways in which registered nurses are working to improve health care. Often described as an art and a science, nursing is a profession that embraces dedicated people with varied interests, strengths and passions because of the many opportunities the profession offers from working in hospitals to school-based clinics and long-term care facilities, to mention just a few. And, nurses have many roles from staff nurse to educator to nurse practitioner and nurse researcher.
Would Brown recommend nursing, especially in an emergency department, to someone thinking about entering the profession?
"I think nursing is one of the most rewarding professions. You're helping people, while at the same time expanding your knowledge every day. As for working in an emergency department, it can be very challenging, but it's also extremely rewarding. You have to be able to think quickly on your feet and, yes, it can be highly stressful, but we all come back to work every single day, and we wouldn't stay if we didn't like it," Brown said.
"It's all about helping people feel better in any way that we can. It can be as simple as giving someone who is cold a warm blanket or placing an extra pillow under their neck, to caring for someone who is in cardiac arrest and needs the entire team's help to restore their life," she added.
Brown also stressed you must be a "team player" when it comes to being a good nurse.
"A nurse never works alone and always fosters the team and supports her or his team members and assists them to care for their patients. Working as part of a team is important to assure the best possible care. A nurse needs the doctor, physical therapist, x-ray technician, lab tech, social worker, minister, family members and others to all care for the patient," she said.
National Nurses Week begins May 6 and ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, founder of nursing as a modern profession. During this week, registered nurses throughout the country and at Baystate Medical Center will be honored in several ways including displays of research conducted by Baystate nurses, a nursing gala and awards ceremony, and various educational activities.
Baystate Medical Center has been re-designated for the second time as a Magnet hospital for excellence in nursing services — a distinction that places the hospital's nursing staff among the finest in the nation. Nationally, only about 6.7% of all health care organizations carry Magnet designations.

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