It is hard to believe that we are ringing in the New Year. Welcome 2017! Where did the year go? I think there is a bit of truth to what I hear the “seasoned” folks say, “The older one becomes, the faster time flies.”
Concerns that impact the health of our citizens are seemly picking up speed. States across America, including Ohio, have worked to legalize marijuana for medical and/or recreational use. Thousands are overdosing and struggling with opioid abuse. Violence is at an all time high as we witness the stories of multiple shootings and death in malls, schools, churches; anywhere people gather. Acts of terrorism, polluted city drinking water, domestic and workplace violence incidents play over and over on news channels.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recently reported a slight decrease in the life expectancy of the nation, and that heart disease continues to be the major cause of death, followed by cancers. I dare not forget to mention the presidential election of 2016, as being a major stressor for many. Oh my! What else? What else shall we concern ourselves with? The downsizing of employees in many sectors (including the hospitals and health agencies) has continued to impact the economy.
All of these issues and many more directly influence the health of our nation, states, cities and communities. As major players in the provision of health care, nurses continue to be on the front line of all the above concerns and societal stresses.
As we enter into the new year, let us not forget that nurses are ethically bound by our professional code to not only advocate for our individual patients, families, and specific populations; but also to “integrate principles of social justice into nursing and health policy” (Code of Ethics for Nurses, 2015). Now is a good time to actually review the Code and work to find a way to strengthen our individual professional growth.
If you can do a lot then do a lot. If you can do just a little, do just a little, but do something! Most of us can do a little and nurses can make a little go a long way.
Make an effort to support District Three this year. Take a two-hour shift to screen for hypertension at the fair. Buy (or sell) the District Three, ONA holiday nuts. Become a board member of an organization of your interest/choice. Or make it really easy and fun by attending one of the continuing education events. It will make a huge difference.
Come out to see the amazing film, The American Nurse: Healing America. It is a heartfelt film that examines the core of advocacy and nursing. Don’t miss it.
Now, with all that said, I will end this message by wishing each of you a healthy new year full of grace and happy times that outweigh any sadness or difficulty that pepper our lives.