Age-Related Macular Degeneration / Low Vision Awareness Month
Children’s Dental Health Month
Kids ENT Health Month
Recreational Therapy/Therapeutic Recreation Month
Wise Health Care Consumer Month
2–8 Burn Awareness Week
3–9 Perianesthesia Nurse Awareness Week
7–14 Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week
9–15 Cardiac Rehabilitation Week
9–15 Cardiovascular Professionals Week
23–3/1 Eating Disorders Awareness Week
7 Wear Red Day
Athletic Training Month
Brain Injury Awareness Month
Child Life Month
Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Eye Donor Month
Professional Social Work Month
Save Your Vision Month
Workplace Eye Wellness Month
Looking at the above list of observances could do one of several things. It could cause us to feel sad or frustrated because we or someone we know has one of the health conditions, or it could cause us to be amazed at how much attention is paid to raising public health awareness, or it could inspire us to take action on something we are passionate about!
Regardless of what you think of when you see the above list, don’t forget to acknowledge your role as a nurse or health professional when you encounter one of the above. If it’s a health condition you’ve encountered on a personal level you’ve probably been asked for your professional opinion, advice, and guidance; which you’ve probably given with the utmost professionalism and empathy, instilling hope, providing comfort. If your encounter has been for the purpose of raising public awareness then you’ve undoubtedly done so with a spirit of enthusiasm, expertise, and passion; educating all those who cross your path about what it takes to stay healthy and well. Then of course, if you’re anything like some of my colleagues in the public health arena you’re constantly looking for a reason and opportunity to set up a public information booth, meet with your elders’ program, go to the local elementary, middle, or high school, or figure out a way to engage your colleagues, friends and family in a little health promotion and disease prevention fun.
Perhaps the most important point here is to look at the list above and to figure out what your role is or could be. Don’t sell yourself, or your profession short in this role either. Nurses, the most highly respected and trusted professionals in the country; nursing, ranked number 6 by US News 100 best jobs. Influential, smart, trustworthy, caring, respected, and genuinely passionate about raising the health and wellness of our friends, family, and community!
For those of us who work amongst our people, it seems we are constantly bombarded with the latest statistics showing the tragic disparities facing us and our communities, but as nurses, we hold out that indomitable hope that we, individually and collectively have the where-with-all to make a difference – and we do and we can. Every month we should be planning events, newsletters, website materials, visits, and educational sessions, enlisting our colleagues in whatever way we can. It doesn’t have to be a big production, a large event, or a lot of work. It does however need to be done with some passion and enthusiasm.
We all have full plates, overflowing lives; we’re all over-committed, over-worked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. So I know as well as anyone it’s difficult to find an extra minute amidst our busy schedules or to give up evenings and weekends but then slips in that small gnawing thought that yep, I’m a nurse, and I know I can make a difference. And there’s that ever present desire to make a difference. So I encourage you to check out the months to come and see what events you can undertake to make a difference in the health and wellness of those we hold most dear.
Sandra Haldane, NANAINA President, 2013-2014