Nurses as Healers

Article excerpt

THE 2003 NURSES WEEK THEME HAS BEEN, "Nurses Lifting Spirits, Touching Lives." Nurses touch lives as healers. The word heal derives its meaning from the Anglo-Saxon word haelan, meaning to be or become whole. The nursing role is focused on helping persons become whole, on helping them achieve a state of harmony of mind, body, and spirit. Nurses heal through relationship-centered care in which the therapeutic relationship between nurse and patient is paramount and through which the patient is assisted to achieve the balance so critical to health and wholeness.

Florence Nightingale, whose birth date marks the annual celebration of International Nurses Day on May 12, is often remembered as the first visionary of nursing, and the first healer. But we have present-day healers among us. They are the nurses in your classrooms, the nurses on your units, and the nurses delivering home care to thousands of patients. They are the nurses in intensive care units, in emergency rooms, and in the military. They are the pediatric nurses and the geriatric nurses. They are the nurse midwives and the specialists of every type. They are black and white; they are young and old; they are from every socioeconomic, religious, and ethnic background. They are the nurse healers.

Consider their reasons for becoming and being nurses. Consider Tom, who said, "I wanted to give something back to the world, as I had been so blessed. Nursing is right for me." Consider Sandra, who said, "I am in nursing because I have a firm commitment to improving the health and lives of others. I know that I make a difference in my patients' lives." Consider Ginny, who said, "As a nurse, I know that my care and support is important to my patients. …