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Letter from Sioux Lookout: "Nurses help communities thrive"

May 19, 2005 -- Today the Wawatay News (Ontario) posted a very good Nursing Week letter to the editor by Lyn Button, RN, BN, the Zone Nursing Officer of the Sioux Lookout Zone for Health Canada, the nation's federal health department. Ms. Button's letter explains what nurses do for patients and what it takes to be a good nurse today, and it provides special insight into the vital role of nurses in remote rural communities, "where everyone knows everyone else." It is a good example of the kind of advocacy that can help the public--and decision-makers--understand the real value of nursing.

Ms. Button stresses not only that nurses are there for people at their most vulnerable times, but also that nurses are "knowledge workers who are dealing with increasingly complex cases and issues." She explains that the work of rural nurses is important because health status declines with distance from urban centers. So rural nurses must be self-reliant generalists with strong clinical knowledge, dealing with everything from visits with Elders to helping with health lessons at schools to emergency injuries. She notes that nursing in a community where everyone knows everyone means that nurses feel a special sense of accountability, that they must earn people's trust as the keepers of secrets, and that they may be effectively on duty all the time, which can lead to stress. She writes that "[n]urses make differences in people’s lives by staying true to the nursing goal, which is to assist people, families, and communities achieve optimal health, wellness, and independence," and that nursing requires "[i]nnovation, resilience, flexibility, teamwork, communication and leadership." Ms. Button ends by stressing the value of a strong nursing profession in a dynamic, fast-changing care environment, and urging readers to say "thank you" to a nurse this week. (This amounts to a request that we thank her, but we know what she means.)

Ms. Button's letter is a fine way to mark Nurses' Week, and we commend her and the Wawatay News for publishing it.

See the May 19, 2005 letter to the editor by Lyn Button in the Wawatay News.

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