This year's official annual observance of National Nurse's Week takes place from May 6--12. It's a special time when those of us who have made a career in health care step back to appreciate our nurse colleagues for their extraordinary compassion, skill, and dedication.

The American Nurses Association has chosen "Nurses Leading the Way" as this year's theme, and I know for a fact that my fellow nurses at the Brattleboro Retreat stand out as leaders in countless ways: embracing new technologies, adapting to ever-changing demands, and developing innovative ways to help our patients recover, stay safe, and look forward to new possibilities they may never have imagined.

Our nation has more than 3 million nurses who work in countless healthcare settings including hospitals, schools, businesses, clinics, and small family practices. No matter where a nurse works, she or he has a unique opportunity to make lasting impacts on the lives of patients and their families. And those of us who are nurses can definitely remember certain patients and families we took care of where a real, and profound connection took place -- a connection so powerful it could almost take your breath away.

To me, this is the heart of nursing. It's the ability to look beyond people as patients, and see the human being inside; fanning their strengths, giving hope when it looks like none can be found, and helping to lighten the load that comes with bearing illness and pain.


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Nurses are the rock that others can lean on when their world has fallen apart.

Here at the Brattleboro Retreat we will celebrate Nurses' Week during the week of May 5th by acknowledging all of our Retreat nurses and mental health workers with a host of activities, some of them social, some of them educational. In addition to these special events I am also proud to publicly applaud each of the nurses on our staff at the Retreat as well as the nurses who work so hard in other healthcare institutions in our community: Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, Grace Cottage, Cheshire Medical Center, HCRS, and more.

I encourage you to take a moment as well, should the opportunity to arise, to let a nurse know how much you appreciate what they do. It doesn't have to be this week, or even next. But somewhere along the line I am confident you will hear about, or encounter, a nurse who has done something extraordinary, and merely thinks of it as just another part of her or his day.

Linda Nagy, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, is the vice president of patient care/chief nursing officer at the Brattleboro Retreat.