Today is Nurses Day 2016, so I want to take a moment to appreciate all the nurses of UMMC. Of all the members of the health-care team, these women and men are at the very center of our work with and for patients.
Nearly 3,000 nurses - approaching a third of our labor force - work at UMMC, including at our hospitals in Lexington and Grenada. They have 67 different titles and hold many non-traditional roles. They provide care throughout the patients' life spans, from preemies to palliative care for the terminally ill.
While we normally think of nurses as “putting the care in health care,” they are also leaders in our efforts to change and improve the health-care system, playing a crucial role in outcomes, access, care coordination, quality improvement and waste reduction. We've had a history of capable leadership in clinical nursing, going back to Machiel Perkins and Florence King, and more recently Drs. Janet Harris, Terri Gillespie and a very strong team around them.
My appreciation extends to our own School of Nursing, which I consider to be one of the most vibrant and innovative in the country. The first baccalaureate nursing program in Mississippi, our nursing school has also been blessed by strong leaders, from the early years of Christine Oglevee to Dr. Edrie George and right up to the present day with Dr. Kim Hoover.
While we are fortunate to be able to “grow our own” nurses, I'm grateful for our excellent nurses from whatever school they attended. We embrace them all and couldn't do without them.
My personal experience with nursing began when I was here as a medical student. One of my close friends, also a medical student, was a nurse. She was the member of our study group who always knew more than the rest of us and had a strong grasp of material early. Her background in nursing gave her an advantage and at times seemed almost magical. During our third year, she was our "tour guide" around the hospital and the clinics.
As a medical student and resident, I was never the smartest person in the class, but I was smart enough to know almost intuitively that working well with the nurses was key. They are the ones who take care of the patients. Nurses are the constant interface between the patient and the rest of the world.
Here are a few things I've learned about nurses from my own personal observation and experience.
- Nurses will sit and hold a patient's hand.