Nursing: Being part of something bigger

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As nurses, we are faced with defining moments each day that become the foundation of our character and shape our professional identities. Not to mention, we work in an ever-expanding and ever-changing health care environment with numerous career paths. While the advancement of opportunities for professional nurses over the course of the past four decades has been profound, this evolution has also contributed, in part, to today’s very real nursing shortages in hospitals and clinics across the state and nation.

But now, more than ever, we need nurses. Nurses are vital to our patients and communities. In our roles with UnityPoint Health®, we serve as mentors for nurses and young leaders with great dreams. One of our greatest professional and personal joys is to recognize the quality that sets nurses apart, and that is extraordinary empathy.

We believe those with an empathetic heart are more often called to serve others. They have a greater desire to not only be part of a profession that eases the pain and worries of others, but also part of something that’s much bigger than themselves. That call is answered when becoming a nurse.

UnityPoint Health — Cedar Rapids is exceedingly fortunate to have many amazing nurses that have dedicated their lives to their profession. We recently honored many of our nurses who have been nominated for the DAISY© Award, a prestigious international recognition that honors and celebrates the skillful, compassionate care that nurses provide every day.

It’s inspiring to hear the stories of our most recent DAISY© winners, like ER Nurse Bonnie Lunsford. The patient who nominated Bonnie thankfully survived a massive stroke and described her care in the award nomination: “At the worst moment in my life, Bonnie Lunsford was the only constant I could hold on to. She told me I was going to be OK and I believed her. Crazy, isn’t it that a total stranger can give you hope? She did. She was my anchor to this world and believe me, I was hanging on for dear life.”

And there’s Erin Kuhl, an oncology nurse on 5 Center, who was nominated by the wife of a Hospice patient that sadly passed away. The wife wrote, “Nursing is her calling, there is no doubt about that. My husband is gone and my heart is broken, but I will never forget Erin’s kindness.”

And that is why nursing is more than just a job. It’s a calling — to be part of someone’s best or worst day, providing them with the kind of care, the touch, the words that will cause them to remember this happy or sad moment for the rest of their lives.

To all nurses, thank you for being role models of empathy. You matter. You are part of something bigger: hope for a better health care future.

• Carmen Kleinsmith, is vice president and chief nurse executive and Sue Thompson, is senior vice president of integration and optimization at UnityPoint Health in Cedar Rapids

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