A Look at Nursing: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

By Angela Babaev, DNP

Care and sense of duty are some of the initial thoughts that come to mind when we think of a nurse. Being a nurse is significantly more than a health care professional. A nurse can touch patient lives just once and forever become somebody a patient will never forget.

What nurses do for patients and families can’t always be quantified in points, dollars or cents. The impact is more profound and extends far beyond. Patients will always remember the healing touch and caring words. To quote Jean Watson, a nurse theorist and nursing professor best known for her theory of human caring, “Caring is the essence of nursing.”

With the holidays upon us and the New Year approaching, now is a great time to look back and reflect on the past year at SBH. Together we have accomplished a great deal: opening a geriatric inpatient unit, joining a nurse residency program as part of the NYS Consortium, completing the journey towards Baby Friendly USA designation, and restructuring the emergency department to improve the flow, just to name a few.

Every day I go to work with people who are passionately dedicated to serve underserved populations. We are very proud of the work we do to make SBH the best hospital in the Bronx. This is the place with a big heart, one filled with empathy and kindness projected through our commitment, collaboration, dedication, hard work and passion, making a difference every day in the lives of our patients and their families because of compassionate team members like you. The knowledge that what we do every day has a great impact on our patients, is a powerful reward – one I hope everyone feels during the holiday season and throughout the upcoming year.

There are many nursing pioneers to remind us about caring passion as a drive to influence change and make a difference. For example:

Dorothea Dix fought fearlessly for having notable changes made in the treatment of the mentally ill. Through her efforts, New Jersey Trenton State Hospital was build serving the mentally ill.

Clara Barton, known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” and founder of the American Red Cross, started by arranging a relief program for soldiers, traveling with army ambulances to distribute supplies, nursing victims, and helping locate missing men and notifying families of their status.

Florence Nightingale, the “lady with the lamp,” whose birthday as the founder of modern nursing is celebrated every year on May 12, remains a role model for nurses. Her care of soldiers during the Crimean War is legendary, and her thoughts on nursing, ethics and other topics still
resonate today in her published works and letters.

Annie Damer, whose “calm, balanced mind,” helped her develop the nursing infrastructure and secure legal recognition of nursing as a profession.

Virginia Henderson developed the nursing theory. Known as the first lady of nursing, she can be considered the most famous nurse of the 20th century with all her contributions and influence on nursing education, practice, and research, as well as its implications. She was the woman behind the development of nursing theory, carefully and clearly defining the roles of nurses in health care. Her theory is that nurses should aid everyone, sick and well, in the quest for better overall health or peaceful death.

Lydia Eloise Hall, whose “Care, Cure, Core Theory” was developed through
her interest and research in the field of rehabilitation of chronically ill patients. Hall became involved in the creation of the Loeb Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation at the Montefiore Medical Center. As the founder and first director, she was adamant that nurses oversee daily operations.

Hazel Johnson-Brown, who became the first black female general in the United States Army and the first black chief of the United States Army Nurse Corps.

In the era of globalization and health system reform, many developing and
industrialized countries are reforming their healthcare systems to best use the limited resources available to improve the health status of populations. Now, more than ever, the nursing profession must draw on its expert knowledge and experience to improve healthcare by helping shape effective health policy.

“Lead, Innovate, Excel” is the 2020 ANA theme. The World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World,Health Organization, announced 2020 as the international Year of the Nurse and Midwife, in honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. The commemoration presents a stage to acknowledge past and present nurse leaders worldwide, increase the visibility of the nursing profession in policy discussion and participate in the development and enhanced capability of the nursing workforce.

It is our duty as nurses to ensure that our voice is heard and valued, not only for the nursing profession but also for our patients.

Job title alone does not make a person a leader. Only a person’s behavior determines if he or she occupies a leadership position.

Nurse leaders at every level – from front line to boardroom – inspire, challenge, engage, influence, develop, align, and guide direction, opinion, and course of action. They are the change agents, the diplomats, the role models.

It is essential for nurses to be engaged in improving care delivery, to speak with a unified voice that underscores the importance of creating health society at community, state, national, and global levels so that all people receive equitable, evidence-based care.

After 150 years of delivering care in the Bronx, we will continue to pursue
excellence in patient care, become even more efficient, continue to implement changes that will make us sustainable for the future, and provide stability and opportunities for everyone at SBH. May the future bring new challenges and solutions which unite us in our mission.