What profession provides world-class care and is considered the most honest and ethical profession? Individuals working in this career field can walk an average of 4 to 5 miles in a 12-hour shift (while the average person will only walk 2.5 to 3 miles in 18 hours).

Hopefully, you have figured out that I am talking about nurses. This week, May 6-12, we will celebrate with more than 4 million nurses across America with the theme of “Nurses Make a Difference.”

I often share with nursing students, nurses across Iredell Health System, and the community that I don’t know of another profession that provides so many different work opportunities while still allowing the individual to be a nurse. Nurses work in the hospital, military, research, academia, health departments, and as advance practice – nurse practitioner, midwife, administration, and consultants. Consider the many ways nurses will and do make a difference in each and every one of those areas, providing safe quality care through each and every avenue.

As I reflect on the ways nurses make a difference in our own community, I remember one particular example that stands out to me. Iredell Memorial Hospital’s location between Interstate 40 and Interstate 77 often brings visitors from out of state to our doors. That was the case for one individual who, while driving through our area, felt “they just needed help.” The person ended up visiting our hospital and needed care that would cover a span of weeks. During that time, staff at the hospital learned that the patient had a dog that could not go uncared for while their owner was recuperating. One of our nurses agreed to foster and care for the dog while the individual received the healthcare they needed, relieving a stressor from that individual and allowing them to focus on their health, knowing their beloved companion was being looked after. That and many more acts of kindness (non-healthcare related) occur throughout our entire organization. That includes nurses and many other employees as we care for patients, our community and visitors.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Piedmont Black Nurses Association Scholarship & Awards Day Ball. Tammy Woods, president, shared that the purpose of the organization is “to represent and provide a forum for Black nurses to advocate and implement strategies to ensure access to the highest quality of healthcare for persons of color.” What a great goal and vision for “Making a Difference” within our community! While at the event, I was very proud to be a part of honoring and celebrating one of our very own, Lisa Tate, RN, as the Clinical Staff Nurse of the Year. Lisa is very humble and would prefer celebrating others instead of herself. However, I wanted to share that when it comes to “Making a Difference,” Lisa goes above and beyond the call of duty, not only at Iredell Health System (where she has worked in many different areas for 20-plus years), but she has made a difference through community-wide health fairs, providing COVID-19 vaccines in underserved areas, and ministering throughout her church. On behalf of the nurses at Iredell Health System and throughout our community, I want to congratulate Lisa on a job well done. We are very proud to work with you as we continue “Making A Difference” for the lives we touch and come in contact with daily.

Thank you, community, for celebrating with our nurses this week and for recognizing the difference they make in each of your lives daily.

Becky Wagner is the vice president of Nursing and Patient Services for Iredell Health System.

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