The Transylvania Times -

Honoring Nurses And Teachers


May 9, 2019

This week is National Nurses Week. It is also National Teacher Appreciation Week. While the jobs nurses and teachers do are technically different, the people drawn to these jobs and the jobs themselves have many similarities.

Both jobs require four-year college degrees and both require re-certification. Nurses must be re-certified every two years and teachers in North Carolina have to be re-certified every five years. While these requirements are beneficial, they are an additional requirement that must be completed outside the normal work day.

Of course, there is no normal work day for nurses and teachers. Each patient and child is different, and they can behave differently from one day to the next. To adjust to changes in behavior and schedules requires a great deal of flexiblity and equanimity. In addition, the work day itself often lasts longer than designed. Nurses often stay past their shift to make sure the transition to the next shift is smooth. Teachers are known to work after hours at school and then take work home on the evenings and weekends.

While nurses’ and teachers’ primary focus is their patients and students, they also have to work with the families of their patients and students. Sometimes family members can be helpful, and sometimes they are detrimental. Regardless, nurses and teachers have to deal with them professionally.

Nurses and teachers have to deal with the whole patient and the whole child. While they respectively focus on physical health and academic progress, they also provide emotional support and stability. Teachers are legally viewed as substitute parents (in local parentis) for children and nurses serve a similar role for their patients.

These professionals are compassionate. Their victories are the victories of their patients and students. Nurses feel good when their patients improve and teachers feel good when their students succeed. Maybe more importantly, nurses and teachers are there when times are the worst; they are there to comfort their patients and their students. Nearly all of them are drawn to these professions because they want to help others; their job satisfaction is derived from helping others.

Nurses and teachers have similar complaints. Both nurses and teachers have to spend too much time recording information and filling out paperwork – time that they would rather spend working with their patients and students.

They also are understaffed and underpaid. Many nurses have six patients under their charge. That equates to spending just 10 minutes per hour per patient, but that does not include the amount of time inputting data into a computer. With a 1:6 nurse-to-patient ratio, if a nurse spends five minutes per hour entering information on each patient, that leaves just five minutes per patient per hour. Proposed federal guidelines state that the nurse to patient ratio should be 1:4, and lower in many other areas, including ICU, the emergency room, post-anesthesia, pediatrics, etc. While many teachers have manageable class sizes in this county, there are places in the U.S. where teachers may have 35-50 students. In those classes, it is impossible to meet the needs of every student.

While pay for nurses and teachers has improved in some states in recent years, they are still generally underpaid. As a result, nursing and teaching positions are open throughout the country. If one is willing to relocate, and often not very far, they can usually find a job.

Both of these professions are dominated by females. Given our cultural and historical tendency to downplay the role of women in the workplace – that they are not the breadwinners and their primary role is that of wife or mother – is it not surprising that these professions are often undervalued and underpaid.

These professions are vital. They help provide two things we must have to be successful and happy – health and education. Without either, our lives would be a mere shell of what they could be.

This week we should show our appreciation to our local nurses and teachers in some tangible way. We should also support them throughout the year with words of thanks and encouragement and support any legislation that recognizes their value and would enhance their ability to provide these essential services.


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