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The nurse – an extraordinary human being

The nurse – an extraordinary human being

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By fate or coincidence International Nurses Day (May 12) this year came right in the midst of the heroic efforts of our nursing fraternity not only to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to keep up with the myriad tasks which fall to this underappreciated group of workers. At the same time though, the sacrifices that they bear in relation to COVID-19, worldwide and not just here at home, has perhaps given Nurses Day a greater prominence this year than in the past.

The day itself, instituted since 1965, is observed around the world to pay tribute to the significant contribution that nurses have made, and continue to make, to human society and the health and well-being of the world’s peoples over the years. May 12 marks the birth date of the woman who is today considered “the founder of modern nursing”. She left not only a legacy for others to follow but put a female stamp on the profession which endures to this day.

More and more, men have been joining the profession even though in some societies the old sexual division of labour continues to result in many men frowning at participation in such a profession. It makes the decision of those men who take up nursing as a career all the more admirable.

Nurses are among what is today regarded as the category of “frontline workers”. It is to them, first and foremost that the everyday care of the sick, the ailing and aged is entrusted. They are the bedside carers, the minders, the morale boosters who often make a difference in the recovery of the sick. When relatives of the hospitalised for instance have long gone to rest at home, it is the nurses who are charged with the overnight vigil and trying to keep patients safe until next day.

It is a task which calls for special skills and a particular disposition making the nurse an extraordinary human being. The job of a nurse is by far not an easy one and can at times be most unpleasant. They are exposed to all kinds of human sicknesses and diseases which place not only them, but their families as well at risk.

Their contribution, forbearance and patience are not always appreciated and all too often they are subject to abuse, verbal and otherwise by members of the public. Yet when the chips are down, it is on the same nurses that we must rely, whether at hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or in our own domestic settings.

Their conditions of work are not always what they ought to be, the necessities for ensuring the success of their efforts are not always forthcoming and unfortunately they are the ones who experience the brunt of the complaints and abuse. It is a situation which can test most human beings and from time to time the responses may not be in keeping with the responsibilities of the noble profession.

But overall, nurses all around the world have served the world’s population well. They continue to do so in the face of the COVID-19 threat, literally being on the frontline. They deserve not only our commendation but also our support for better working conditions, and appreciation as they carry out their thankless tasks. It is the least we can do.

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