Nursing Week: Every Step of the Way

There are many words which can be used to itemize the characteristics of a nurse. Knowledgeable; advocate, resourceful, dedicated, holistic, and professional are a few which come readily to mind. It is those characteristics, and many others that nurses contribute to patients, clients, families, residents and communities as they provide care through every stage of life and health. Since 1985 the week in May that includes Florence Nightingale's birthday (May 12th) has been set aside in Canada to celebrate the nursing profession and the contributions of all nurses. The theme of this year's National Nursing Week, which began Monday, May 11 is 'Nurses: With You Every Step of the Way.' This theme fittingly recognizes nurses for being active, caring and knowledgeable caregivers along their health care journeys.

On the eve of this nursing week, last Thursday, May 7, the Ontario Shores communications team launched its amazing "Hope Song" and music video.  Now available on iTunes and Youtube the song showcases the role hope plays in the journey to Recovery and wellness. What an amazing prelude to Nursing Week at Ontario Shores! Why? Because a vital role that nurses play is to hold the hope for their patients until those patients regain the strength and ability to hold it themselves. Just last month during Nursing Council I heard two real life examples: a patient who had been very ill for months and whose illness manifested itself in ways that were profoundly challenging for the nurses and the interprofessional health care team was well enough to be discharged! That patient left the team with a thank you letter that was so touching and meaningful to them that they each took copies! Secondly, a patient who came back to the hospital after his successful discharge home to bring the team flowers and personally express his appreciation. Nurses were indeed with these patients "every step of the way!"  I extend my deep thanks to the nurses at Ontario Shores for your efforts, outcomes and spirit, and I acknowledge and celebrate nurses everywhere for the positive difference you make to people and communities.

In addition to the focus this week brings to our profession, it is also the perfect time to reflect on our profession and our day to day engagement in our nursing work. I recently read an article by Ted Ball, a well-informed health policy analyst from Quantum Transformation Technologies, on 'wicked questions'. In his piece, Ted defined 'wicked questions' as those that are open-ended, provocative and do not have a single obvious answer.  He suggested that wicked questions are valuable for their ability to prompt us to think more deeply, to identify alternative approaches, to invite inquiry, and to surface issues.

A recent issue of the Canadian Journal of Nursing Leadership (Volume 27, Issue 4, 2014) used a "wicked questions" approach in examining important issues related to nursing education and nurses' role in the healthcare system. The issue begins with a guest editorial by Dr. Kathleen MacMillan (Director, Dalhousie School of Nursing) in which she calls nurses to action and impact; and closes with a provocative essay by the Saskatchewan-based Steven Lewis (professor and health and policy consultant).  In between are thoughtful, eloquent articles that each include one or more wicked questions. It is powerful reading for this year's Nursing Week!

I am inspired by the wicked questions approach and close this blog by urging each and every nurse to mark and celebrate Nursing Week 2015 by asking themselves and/or colleagues some wicked questions.  Here are some of mine: What nursing or healthcare issue will I become more aware of or involved in this year? What learning will I seek out to keep my nursing knowledge current? What will I personally do to further establish a psychologically safe and healthy environment at my workplace? How can I renew and extend my engagement in my workplace and my profession?  What wicked questions will you pose? Please send them to me @barbmildon or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In the meantime, I wish all nurses a happy and reflective Nursing Week and continued meaning and fulfillment in this amazing profession we have chosen.