Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Ann Landers: You have printed several letters from nurses who said their job is difficult, back-breaking and unrewarding. While I agree this is not the easiest work in the world, I feel privileged to be a nurse because I can make a difference in the lives of people when they need it most. I am honored to be a member of this noble profession and am sure there are thousands of others like me. — Becky in Charleston, S.C.
Dear Becky: Thank you for your touching letter. I recently received this poem from the Faxton Hospital Foundation in Utica, N.Y., which the nurses in my reading audience will find inspiring:
What Is a Nurse?
by Ann E. Coupe
A nurse is a very special person, who
Never fails to place the needs of patients first, whose
Unique gentleness and depth of love are selflessly given: a
Radiant and humane person, dedicated to caring for the sick: that
Special bridge between physician and patient so vital to recovery.
Ever loving, ever giving, a nurse is the orchid of God's flowers.
And now, dear readers, what follows is the last corsage I am pinning on the nurse's shoulder for several months to come. Here it is:
Dear Ann Landers: You recently printed a job description for nurses dating from the 19th century. The writer gave the erroneous impression that nursing is a lot easier today than it was then. He is wrong.
After 20 years as a nurse, I've seen tremendous changes in both duties and ethics. Today, nurses must be educated and continue to keep up-to-date on technical advances and procedures. There are discoveries almost daily that affect how illness, wounds and trauma are treated. Nurses must learn how to operate newly invented devices that improve the care of patients.
Today, a nurse must be a facilitator, educator, caregiver, confessor and manager. She must also have intelligence, compassion and intuition. Years ago, the nurse fulfilled the role of what would be a nurse's assistant today. Now, nurses handle more duties so the physician can concentrate on the more complicated situations. We are no longer menial servants, as that century-old job description would indicate, but highly educated, highly skilled medical professionals working to bring the best care to each person who seeks our help.
I do not claim that nurses are one rung down from sainthood, but we're close. — New Jersey R.N.
Dear R.N.: Amen, sister.
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