Nurses across America have been officially recognized and celebrated for over 40 years.  Nurses Day has morphed into Nurses Week, and this year has extended into a month-long celebration focusing on the theme of “Nurses make a difference.” From an international perspective, the theme grows even larger:  “Nurses:  a voice to Lead – Invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health.”  In short, everyone worldwide loves, appreciates and supports nurses.

Even so, collectively, we have not always been kind to nurses during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Although we generously dub nurses as “heroes of the heart,” delivering patient care through the height of the pandemic has taken a harsh physical and emotional toll on most of them.  In reality, nurses need more than accolades or paper hearts; they need care, and they need support if good health care is to be available for us when we need it.

As the American Nurses Association has designated this week as National Nurses Week, I salute all of the Nursing faculty and students at the 1,000 community colleges across America.  It is our community college sector that largely educates the thousands of nurses needed to fill hospitals and medical centers across the country.  I want to especially acknowledge the fine nursing faculty and staff at my college as well as the thousands of students waiting in the wings to enter the proverbial lists upon completion of their National Board Examinations.  The stature of CCBC’s School of Health Professions as the largest provider of undergraduate Nursing and Allied Healthcare education and training in the state is no accident.  How lucky we are to be considered the best, not because we say so, but because every hospital and medical facility in our region says so.

My request of our nursing graduates at every pinning ceremony is the same, that they practice their new craft as we would wish them to, with their hearts as well as their heads.  They stand upon the shoulders of the bold faculty who continue to teach and lead by example.

At a recent pinning, one of the speakers described nurses in a way that has stuck with me; she called them “angels in comfortable shoes.” Proudly,  community colleges can justly lay claim to the noble achievement that each year we graduate thousands more “angels in comfortable shoes!”