Updated: Jan 4
Among her many activities since retiring from Cleveland State University, Vida B. Lock, PhD, RN, has been a member of the NEO YON Steering Committee. Dr. Lock was asked to serve as the editor for the stories on this site. She said it was a joy to help share the many roles and amazing accomplishments of nurses during this celebration of the Year of the Nurse.
Two weeks after my daughter began the first grade, I went to the school’s open house during which parents could meet their child’s teacher for a few minutes. The teacher seemed very nice, but I was surprised that the first thing she said was that my daughter was confused.
“Confused about what?” I asked.
“She doesn’t know what you do for a living,” was the reply. My surprised looked caused her to continue. “She said you were a nurse teacher. So, are you a nurse or are you a teacher?”
Smiling, I told her, “I am a nurse who also teaches. While I worked in hospitals for a number of years, I now teach other nurses and nursing students. My daughter was very correct.”
Now it was the teacher’s turn to be surprised—her idea about the nature of nursing was obviously limited.
It has been over 30 years since I’ve thought of that incident, but it came to mind as I was reviewing the many roles that were highlighted in the individual stories on this website. I trust they will continue helping to meet the goal of promoting our profession. However, in thinking about the myriad of roles nurses fill in our communities, it seems that unless most people have had personal interactions with nurses, they and even some nurses, are still not familiar with the breadth of what nurses do.
I encourage you to take time reviewing this site. Each story is unique and reflects the individuality of the nurse who fills that role. You will find it amazing to see the multitude of areas in which nurses practice here in Northeast Ohio. I see it as an intricate mosaic in which all the individual pieces come together to form a beautiful image. What was even more impressive, although not truly surprising, was that the core of each nurse’s story was the same and grounds all of our practices. This constancy, which underlies each story, is the essence of nursing. The stories make it abundantly clear that nurses care deeply for their patients and are committed to providing outstanding care either directly, through administrative support, by providing professional development, or educating the nurses of the future.
Perhaps it was rather foretelling that 2020, this unprecedented year of COVID-19, had been declared the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Nurses have been at the center of the pandemic response, and it is because of their vital presence and work throughout this challenging time that the true value of our profession was recognized by so many. This year will be etched into our memories, and I hope along with those memories, this initiative has helped to shine a light on the tremendous contributions of all nurses.
Florence Nightingale, whose 200th birthday was chosen by the World Health Organization for the celebration of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, was no stranger to challenging situations. Rather, she believed that by using her knowledge and skills, she could make a difference. She faced hardships without despair, defied existing assumptions, changed practices, and did not waiver in her cause even when weary and ill. She led by example and earned the gratitude and respect of multitudes. Florence Nightingale was not only the founder of modern nursing, but her work continues to inspire, shape, and influence us to this day.
Vision has been defined as the intention to make a difference, and nurses have shown an abundance of vision. Even when they are exhausted, they still put their patients and responsibilities first. Nurses have also created a community to take care of each other. While our world continues to evolve and progress is made, nurses have not only adapted to this growth but have driven much of it. Standard operating procedures didn’t always work this year, but that didn’t stop nurses. They showed the resiliency exemplified by their founder.
As we move through life, if we are paying attention and reflecting on what we are doing, we gain wisdom. As I look back to when I was a new nurse, I see that while I had the caring spirit and the technical knowledge, I still had a lot to learn—and I’ve been learning each and every day. As we have moved through this unprecedented year, I would like to think that we as a profession have continued to learn and have also grown in wisdom. Let us remain hopeful as well.
At the end of every year, is it customary for the media to recall the celebrities who the departed this world during that year. In a similar vein, let us pause and remember in a special way those colleagues who have paid the ultimate cost through their selfless service. Each loss is painful and diminishes our numbers, but not our spirit or resolve.
THANK YOU to all the members of the Steering Committee, and especially those who assisted with soliciting stories from nurses. A very special thanks to Cindy Willis (see December 22nd story) who set up the initial plan for stories when the word pandemic was not part of our daily conversations. Cindy’s talents were needed for more critical work that demanded long hours, but she continued to encourage nurses to submit stories and support this project.
Most nurses are very humble about their accomplishments. This, in addition to their being stretched by the pandemic, did not make the task of persuading nurses to write a story easy. Thank you to every person who made time to share their story. I know that for every story that appeared, there exist thousands of other nurses who could also have been highlighted.
These wonderful stories would never have made it to the web without the talents of Elizabeth Lundblad, Internal Communications Manager at FPB. It was a joy to work with Liz throughout this project, and I thank her for the many evening and weekend hours she put in to make certain each day’s story was posted. I encourage you to read yesterday’s entry. It was penned by Liz, who went above and beyond her duties by paying tribute to nurses.
A FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE TRIBUTE
When I stepped down from my position as Dean of the School of Nursing, my husband, knowing my deep admiration for Florence Nightingale, gave me a precious gift—a Florence Nightingale Tribute Medal from 1856. Until I received it, I didn’t know much about the medal, and would like to share pictures and information about it here.
A Peace Fête was held in May 1856 at the Crystal Palace in London to celebrate the end of the Crimean War. Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and other members of the Royal Family attended the Peace Fête on May 9, 1856 to commemorate the unveiling of a model of the Scutari Monument in the presence of Crimean veterans.
The only known Tribute Medal struck in silver was presented to Florence Nightingale at that time--the week of her 36th birthday. It had an additional inscription “TO MISS FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE 1856” on the edge.
If she were with us now, I believe Florence Nightingale would choose to honor all nurses today with similar accolades.
Click the document below for a full description and history of the Florence Nightingale Tribute Medal (pictured above).