Nurses' DayThirty years ago this month, I walked across a stage at my pinning ceremony at Eastern Michigan University. My mother placed my school of nursing pin on my lapel and I felt so proud, so honored and quite honestly…so afraid! Many may recall those first few months as a new nurse.

A lot has happened over the years.  Mary Johnson, house supervisor, and I were chatting about nursing last evening and the phrase “we’ve come a long way” came up in the discussion.

We have come a long way and we have a long road ahead of us.

As I reflect on Nurses’ Day this year, I am reminded it’s the journey not the destination. We are constantly evolving in our professional practice. With any journey, our companions along the way are so important in shaping the experience. I have been blessed and continue to be blessed to serve in company of wonderful caring souls. Each day when I walk-in to work, I look at the hospital and smile: I am proud to be the Chief Nursing Officer. Together, much has been accomplished and we will lead Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial to new levels of excellence.

Many of my employees know I’m a Florence Nightingale nerd and a firm believer that the past is a great toolbox for the future. I’d like to reflect on a few quotes from Florence–a few lessons from the past which have relevance to our challenges today.

Regarding excellence 

In her 1855 report to Parliament of the State of Hospitals of the British Army in Crimea and Scutari, Florence Nightingale said “For the sick, it is important to have the best”. I think we’ve got that one covered here at Gerber! We do have the best.

Regarding patient safety

In her 1859 document, Notes on Hospitals, Florence advises:

“It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm”.  I imagine if Flo were here today she would applaud our hand hygiene and infection prevention programs.

Regarding measuring outcomes

Nightingale was quoted in a 1924 publication by Karl Pearson as saying “To understand God’s thoughts, one must study statistics, for these are the measure of His purpose”.  Many may not realize it, but Florence Nightingale is listed in the history books as not only the mother of modern nursing, but also as a statistician. Through her careful documentation of observations, she was able to make significant changes in hygienic conditions, thus saving lives and improving outcomes for soldiers.

Yes, much has changed and more changes will come. Foundational principles on which the nursing practice was built: excellence, safety, quality and making a difference, will continue to guide us as we lead with new solutions, drive exceptional value, transform the care model and grow with purpose.

For the hard work, dedication and caring spirits, I say “thank you” to my nursing colleagues and those who serve beside us. It is a pleasure to work with you.