Understanding the Value of Nursing

May 24, 2023

NORTH CONWAY, NH – National Nurses Week takes place May 6 – 12. It’s a special time set aside to thank nurses for their tireless hard work. National Nurses Week ends on May 12, which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, known as the founder of modern nursing.  

In her new book about the history of nursing, Taking Care, journalist Sarah DiGregorio chronicles the lives of nurses past and tells the stories of those today — caregivers at the vital intersection of health care and community who are actively changing the world. The book’s synopsis states, “Nurses have always been vital to human existence. A nurse was likely there when you were born and a nurse might well be there when you die. Yet despite being celebrated during the Covid-19 epidemic, nurses are often undervalued, affecting care available to everyone. But the potential power of nursing to create a healthier, more just world endures.” 

DiGregorio advocates for nurses. “Can we be human without nursing?” she asks. In a NYT review of the book, the question is asked, “If a measure of our society is how we treat the most vulnerable, then how we treat nurses is surely a measure of our humanity.”

This book’s focus on the value of nurses and nursing care resonated with Sandy Ruka, nurse and executive director of Visiting Nurse Home Care and Hospice of Carroll County and Western Maine (VNHCH). During National Nurses Month, Ruka wants the public to realize the importance of the care they provide to our community.

Ruka explained,  “Our home care team exemplifies the message in DiGregorio’s book.  The insight and ability to expertly assess and analyze a situation is of immeasurable value but the home care nurse has the unique opportunity of seeing people in their own environment. This can come with challenges but our team continues to provide expert care to all the patients they encounter.  But beyond the technical aspects of care, the home care team provides a personal touch and understanding of individual needs. I am honored to work beside such an outstanding team.”

Clinical Director Kelly Peckham shared Ruka’s perspective on understanding the value of nursing.

“Nursing is so valuable in the community and not just in hospitals. A home care nurse going into someone’s home sees how they live. They can focus on how they can heal at home. We provide education so that folks can stay at home successfully. We see their home environment, their family relationships, their caregiver situation or lack thereof. You can’t put a price on that. We are trying to keep clients out of the hospital so that their nursing ratios can remain where they need to be. 

We are always looking out for the patients’ best interest. Our care comes from the heart and we want to take care of our community members. That’s why we do home care! Nurses are invaluable – and you can’t put a price on that!”

The U.S. is projected to experience a shortage of Registered Nurses that is expected to intensify as Baby Boomers age and the need for health care grows. Compounding the problem is the fact that nursing schools across the country are struggling to expand capacity to meet the rising demand for care given the national move toward healthcare reform.  The pandemic exacerbated the problem, presenting unprecedented challenges to all healthcare workers, especially nurses. Due to stress, burnout and other factors, many have retired, quit, or moved to nursing jobs not requiring direct patient care. 

Now more than ever, understanding the value of nursing is vital to the continued health and well-being of our community. Ruka asks that we all take time to thank a nurse for their service. You’ll never know when you’ll need their care, compassion and courage.

To learn more about careers at VNHCH, visit their jobs page online: https://www.vnhch.org/about/jobs/ or call 603-356-7006.