I got in trouble at Stanford Medical School with the dean over nurses once in the dean's office while in medical school. But the reason isn’t as important as National Nurses Week.
I love National Nurses Week! First of all, as an ER doctor it was always a selfish pleasure to enjoy all the treats in the lounge that were brought in to celebrate the hard work that nurses do day in and day out all year long.
Doctors really owe a lot to nurses. They are the ones that bring your attention to patients that really need help now. Not just now, but right now. Do you know that patient who is about to go into cardiac arrest? Maybe, and maybe not, but the nurse usually does! She’s (or he’s) at the bedside watching the patient minute by minute. What about that patient who you’re sending to the ward from the ER who’s just taken a turn for the worse and who’s about to crump? The nurse does! And they are the ones that bring your attention to that indecipherable order you wrote. But to me there is much more to nursing … I owe my life to a nurse, quite literally.
The first nurse that I want to call out was is Sister Elizabeth Kenny. Sister Kenny was an Australian nurse who served in World War I. She also saved my mother’s life by standing up for her and arguing with the doctors who wanted to put her in an iron lung when she had polio and was deteriorating to the point that she had quadriparesis and bulbar polio. It’s a long story and the reason that I’m alive today; it contributed to me going into medicine, and is the reason my mother developed deep faith and created the Noah’s Ark Ministry. Mom’s story is too long for a blog, but you can read about it in her book, From Paralysis to Praise.
So thank you Nurse Kenny for saving my mother’s life. For staying up all night with her and packing her in hot packs, and for taking her out to breakfast on your dime when she got well!
The second nurse, I want to call out is Jenilyn Peros, DNP, MSN, FNP-C. She’s a nurse but has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice, so we get to celebrate her on both National Nurses Week and Doctor’s Day. This year she already won two well-deserved awards, Nurse Practitioner of the Year, and Advanced Practice Nurse of the year. Most importantly won the award of my heart, as she is my life partner as well as my business partner.
And the trouble I had with nurses in the Dean’s Office way back when? Well, I was always the guy with an idea; so, as per my usual I went into the Dean’s Office with my idea of the week… I felt that Stanford University School of Medicine should add a required clerkship to the required clinical grid. So I told the dean about it.
The idea of making more required work for medical students was bad enough I suppose, but the clerkship idea itself was enough to get me tarred and feathered by the House of Medicine. You see, I wanted Stanford Medical Students to add the requirement to serve as a nurse for at least two weeks. Here was my twisted logic: Nurses have to follow doctors’ orders. They have to read them, mark them off and do them. What better way to learn how to work collaboratively with nurses than to walk in their shoes? What better way to learn to write better orders than actually take them? Well, my idea floated with the dean like a bullet in a swimming pool. But I still think it was a good one. If you're reading this Dean Minor ...
Here’s to National Nurses Week, to Nurse Kenny of yesteryear and to Dr. Jen, this year’s Nurse Practitioner of the Year, Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year, and my Personal Nurse of the Year (She nursed ME back to health after my foot and ankle surgery). And, lastly here's to nurses everywhere who all year are both saving patients and their doctors
Sister Elizabeth Kenny who saved my mother's life!