This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
Recently, I spent an evening in one of our hospitals.
On this particular evening I happened to find myself learning how a woman from a tiny, remote town in Nepal became a Kaiser Permanente nurse. She knew that nursing was her calling from a very early age because she saw the need for basic health care in her country. Attending nursing school meant hiking for days from her home and making the return hike during school breaks. Then, after arriving in America, she had to start again from scratch: school, training and a new job market to navigate.
I was in awe of her. To be cared for by a nurse who cares this much about helping people touched me deeply. And I know she isn't alone. In my role I get to hear countless stories of how our more than 54,000 nurses at Kaiser Permanente touch the lives of so many patients and their families.
This nurse's professional path was, as with so many of her colleagues, so much more than a career. It was truly a responding to a calling she felt. I want to encourage others to answer this call. If we are to realize a health care system that creates an even better patient experience and improves outcomes, we will need these kinds of nurses.
The role of the nurse has never been more important in keeping us healthy and treating us when we're sick. These are the care providers on the front lines of our most pressing medical issues: diabetes, obesity, heart disease and how we care for our elderly. They welcome babies into the world (more than 100,000 babies are delivered every year at Kaiser Permanente hospitals) and are there with our loved ones to ensure dignified endings.
Our nurses promote a culture of open communication, teamwork, and lifelong learning, essential elements of a great health care ecosystem. And they play a key role in our ability to innovate, evaluating and translating our research into improved practices, processes, and ultimately outcomes. Perhaps most importantly they consistently deliver exceptional, compassionate care to patients. The common trait I observe again and again is our nurses' ability to demonstrate a warmth and competency that create a sense of security when you're feeling vulnerable.
They do all this and more because their work is more than a career for them - it's their calling. And they continue to answer the call each and every day. They are devoted to a higher purpose, a noble desire to care for the vulnerable and the sick, to tend to those in need, and to help restore them to health. They and their families have made so many sacrifices to be there for us – to help heal mind, body and spirit.
So as we celebrate National Nurses Week, I salute and recognize the nurses of Kaiser Permanente. Thank you for answering the call and for bringing us health and healing.