The American Nurses Association has announced the theme of National Nurses Week 2005, "Nurses: Many Roles One Profession."
National Nurses Week is celebrated annually from May 6, also known as National Nurses Day, through May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
Dee C. Lawer, RN, MBA, MHA, and nurse recruiter for Kaiser Permanente Colorado said National Nurses week honors a profession dedicated to caring for others. "Nursing is the largest profession in health care and nurses are absolutely a critical part of the health care team," Lawer said. "Nurses are the ones that provide the caring, the compassion and the coordination of care. They are the patient advocate, the teacher, not only for the patient but for the new nurses coming into the health care team." Registered nurses represent the largest, single component of the health care profession with an estimated 2.7 million RNs in the United States.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the country currently has a nurse shortage of nearly 150,000 RNs and will have a shortage of more than 800,000 RNs by the year 2020.
"This year’s theme underscores the breadth of directions that a nurse’s career may take," said ANA president Barbara Blakeney, MS, RN. "Although nurses historically have provided hands-on patient care at the bedside - and will continue to do so - nurses also are deeply involved in health education, research, business and public policy.
One of the goals of National Nurses Week is to remind the public of the critical role that nurses play, said Linda Stierle, MSN, RN, CNAA,BC, ANA’s chief executive officer.
In fiscal year 2005, the nursing community successfully lobbied for a 6 percent increase in overall funding for nurse workforce developments programs ($151 million).
Those programs include student loan and scholarship programs and the Nurse Reinvestment Act. The president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2006, however, cuts overall funding for nurse workforce development programs by $1 million with advanced nursing education funds facing a $15 million cut.
The number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to grow from about 35 million today to more than 70 million by 2030. Lawer said National Nurses Week is just one opportunity to recognize the important work nurses do every day.
"National Nurses Week gives organizations the opportunity to formally highlight the role nurses play in care delivery, to demonstrate the value nurses bring to the health care team and to exhibit the many opportunities organizations provide to assist our nurses to have fulfilling careers and lives," Lawer said. "It is very clear that our nurses honor our profession each day as they deliver care to patients, are a part of teams delivering care to diverse populations, in the ambulatory care setting, in hospitals, in extended care facilities, and in the patients home.
"Nurses are the backbone to health care delivery and in partnership with physicians and other health professionals, they ensure the diverse needs of patients are addressed."