National Nurses Week Focuses on Saving Lives

It's time to ensure the health and safety of those who help keep us healthy, labor secretary says.

The work of America''s 2.6 million registered nurses to save lives, including their own, and to maintain the health of millions of individuals is the focus of this year''s National Nurses Week, celebrated annually May 6-12 throughout the United States.

Using the theme "Nurses: Keeping the Care in Healthcare," the American Nurses Association (ANA) and its 53 constituent associations will highlight the diverse ways in which registered nurses, the largest health care profession, are working to improve health care.

"While they care for us, it is important to ensure that the health of these important care-givers is also protected," Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman said. "Many nurses and nurses aides face a serious risk of injury themselves as they assist and handle patients.

"I particularly want to thank the American Nurses Association and the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses for their tireless efforts to promote safe and healthy work environments for their members and all workers. They have been at the forefront of identifying and promoting strategies to reduce the risks of many occupational injuries, such as musculoskeletal disorders."

One of ANA''s five core issues is workplace health and safety. Thus, the association is supporting nurses on the picket line who are fighting for the right to appropriate staffing and the right to refuse mandatory overtime, a practice that jeopardizes safety of patients and nurses, said ANA President Mary Foley, MS, RN.

While nurses strive to provide quality patient care, they are constantly exposed to workplace hazards such as needlesticks. ANA''s Safe Needles Save Lives Campaign was designed to secure a safer working environment.

Nurses can participate in ANA''s teleconference on preventing needlesticks from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. EST Friday. For more information, visit Nursing World at

Annually, National Nurses Week begins on May 6, marked as RN Recognition Day, and ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, founder of nursing as a modern profession.

by Todd Nighswonger

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