National Nurses Week
In the medical world, there is no one more important than a nurse. Their hard work keeps hospital patients happy and senior residents comfortable.
It is with this dedication in the medical community, we observe National Nurses Week; to give the respect and thanks to the men and women who help keep the medical profession clean, organized, and free of chaos.
Observed from May 6th through May 12th, the pinnacle of this week of appreciation is today. May 12th is the birthday of the medical world’s most well-known nurse; one who reshaped the way nursing was viewed and established it as a well-received career: Florence Nightingale.
“The work that Florence Nightingale did and the changes she made have given people a new light which to view nurses in. National Nurses Week allows us to thank and give recognition to them as we would the police, firefighters, and war veterans.” states Margret Schildbach, one of the three Registered Nurses at St. Coletta of Wisconsin.
Florence Nightingale was born on May 12th, 1820 into a rich, upper-class, well-connected British family and was named after the prominent city in which she was born. In the late 1830s, Florence felt a strong desire to devote her life in caring for the sick and wounded. Her family however, particularly her mother and sister, strongly opposed her working as a nurse; as an upper-class Victorian woman at the time was expected to devote her life as a mother and wife in high society.
In 1844, despite the anger and distress of her mother and sister, Florence announced to her family that she was entering the nursing field. For the next three years, she fought hard to educate herself in nursing. Florence also rebelled against the oppression of her family as well as the strict social code for young English women.
On October 21st 1854, after receiving authorization from her longtime friend and politician Sidney Herbert, Nightingale and a staff of 38 volunteer nurses and 15 Catholic nuns left for the Ottoman Empire. At the time, the Ottoman Empire was in the midst of the Crimean War. Nightingale arrived in Scutari, an area of modern-day Istanbul, in November of 1854. She and her team were appalled to find the medical staff over-worked, low supplies, the hospitals over-crowded, and poor health conditions. Most of the injured were dying from typhus, typhoid, and cholera than their injuries.
Nightingale immediately sent letters with pleas for help back to Britain, and starting implementing sanitation and hygienic practices in order to combat the poor conditions. During her tour, the patients began calling her “The Lady with the Lamp” or “The Angel with the Lamp” because of her motherly devotion to them as well as her dedication to walk the night rounds. In the spring of 1855, the Sanitation Commission sent by the British government arrived in Scutari. The Commission soon had the sewers flushed, and the hospitals ventilated. In the six months since Nightingale’s arrival, the mortality rate in the hospitals dropped from around 42% to almost 2%.
After returning to Britain, she produced her reports to the Royal Commission on the Health of the Army. Her findings revealed that most died from infection, poor nutrition, and over-worked staff. The Commission awarded her with the establishment of the Nightingale Fund for her contribution with war efforts. The fund quickly received generous donations for the training of nurses, which Nightingale used to set up a nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital on June 9th 1860. The school is now known as the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery and is part of King’s College in London.
Almost 100 years later, in October of 1954, the International Council of Nurses named May 12th as International Nurses Day. To this day thousands of nurses, including those at St. Coletta of Wisconsin, are praised for their contribution in continuing Florence Nightingale’s philosophy.
“The efforts of Florence Nightingale have definitely changed the nursing world for the better. Though there is always opportunity to improve, the most important thing to remember is compassion. We can always improve the compassion that nurses have for their patients, and it is always important to remember to love your job.” reminds Chris Olszewski, Registered Nurse at St. Coletta of Wisconsin. “Nurses all over the world make a difference almost every day. National Nurses Week lets us appreciate their hard work in taking care of those who cannot do it themselves.” she adds “Nursing can be a difficult and challenging career. But if you believe you can do it, God bless you, because we need those kinds of people out there.”
We had the opportunity to interview two of our nurses at St. Coletta of Wisconsin, registered nurses Margret Schildbach and Chris Olszewski.
What got you interested in your job?
Margret- “My father in-law was very ill for a period of time; I wanted to help take care of him because it was something I was interested in. After he passed away, I went to school and studied to receive my C.N.A. Then, I went back 2 years later to earn my license as a L.P.N. I enjoyed my career very much, so I returned and became a registered nurse.”
Chris- “After I graduated, I worked for 24 years in their Direct Care department. Because of my service and dedication, I received a grant that I used to return to school for a registered nursing course. After receiving my license, I worked at Marquardt Manor in Watertown for about 6 ½ years before coming to work at St. Coletta.”
What do you like about your job?
Margret- “I like taking care of people and seeing the results of my care with them. I worked at Marquardt Manor in Watertown with Chris, for many years before moving to St. Coletta of Wisconsin. I enjoy helping and taking care of the elderly and this involvement in helping them encouraged my daughter to become a registered nurse at the University of Wisconsin Cancer Center in Johnsons Creek.”
Chris- “I like being a nurse because it allows me to help those in need of care. Seeing that I am making a difference makes me feel really good about myself.”
What is/was the best moment in your career?
Margret- “While I was working in Marquardt Manor, we had an elderly man who started choking during dinner. I was called in and preformed the Heimlich maneuver until he could breathe again. Hearing him no longer in distress made me realize my importance in being a caretaker to those that need assistance.”
Chris- “I teach for the clients at St. Coletta and I enjoy working with them. When I see the lesson click in their minds, and they realize that they are more capable than they once thought, makes me feel like I deserve my job for helping teach them.”
If you could revolutionize the nursing field, how would you do so?
Margret- “Florence Nightingale made many sanctions in sanitation and hygiene when she saw the conditions in Scutari. These sanctions remain today; however, many hospitals are still dirty in some way. When I was visiting my daughter after she had minor heart surgery, after placing my purse on the floor next to the bed, the nurse advised me to keep it there so not as to spread bacteria. It is important to keep up on the sanctions for sanitation and good hygiene, so I would continue to work on the philosophy of Florence Nightingale.”
Chris- “The efforts of Florence Nightingale have definitely changed the nursing world for the better. Though there is always opportunity to improve, the most important thing to remember is compassion. We can always improve the compassion that nurses have for their patients, and it is always important to remember to love your job.”
Do you have any advice for current nurses or those that want to pursue the career?
Margret- “Enjoy every day in your career. Those who do not enjoy their work usually don’t do well, so take every day and challenge in stride. Take advantage of every situation, it may lead you somewhere.”
Chris- “Nursing can be a difficult and challenging career. But if you believe you can do it, God bless you, because we need those kinds of people out there.”