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Commentary: Giving thanks during National Nurse and Technician Appreciation Week

U.S. Air Force Maj. Melissa Fisher, 633rd Medical Group oral and maxillofacial surgeon, reviews a patient’s X-ray before performing oral surgery at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Jan. 2, 2014. In addition to oral surgery, Fisher is also able to perform some cosmetic surgeries. Fisher is a native of Decatur, Ill. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Wesley Farnsworth/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Melissa Fisher, 633rd Medical Group oral and maxillofacial surgeon, reviews a patient’s X-ray before performing oral surgery at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Jan. 2, 2014. In addition to oral surgery, Fisher is also able to perform some cosmetic surgeries. Fisher is a native of Decatur, Ill. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Wesley Farnsworth/Released)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Have you ever thought of taking the time to personally thank those who provide medical care to the ones near and dear to our hearts? Have you ever wondered how a person can continue to dedicate themselves to perfecting the art of being a compassionate health care provider? If you've answered yes to either of these questions you're in luck because National Nurse and Technician Appreciation Week is finally upon us.

The notion of "nursing" has been around since the civilization of mankind. However, it wasn't until 1860 that nursing became a respectable and revered career when a woman by the name of Florence Nightingale revolutionized the entire concept. Nightingale committed 73 years of her life to nursing beginning at the tender age of 17. In those 73 years, Nightingale dedicated herself to her craft and founded the Nightingale Training School which laid the foundation for commitment to patient care, compassion, and a diligent and thoughtful hospital administration. Fast forward 154 years and we now have nurses within the civilian and military sectors providing premiere care in positions which were previously held by doctors only - i.e., midwives, nurse anesthetists, and family nurse practitioners, all of which have been utilized home and abroad.

Circa 1914 brought about a time in which the nation had an overwhelming demand for nurses. This demand inevitably led to the construction of the Volunteer Nurses' Aide Service. These volunteers were engineered to accomplish tasks which would further enable nurses to focus on more complicated tasks during the height of WWI. The craft of Volunteer Nurses' Aides has drastically evolved in the last 100 years and are now referred to as certified nursing assistants or CNAs. These personnel are highly trained civilian assets who work in a vast array of areas such as surgical wards, cardiac wards, and emergency departments. Our armed forces also has CNAs but fuses that profession with that of an emergency medical technician or EMT. These highly trained personnel are referred to as medics or medical technicians and also work in a vast array of areas such as surgical wards, cardiac wards, and emergency departments. However, military personnel perform much more complicated procedures than CNAs in light of their more advanced training.

How does a history lesson tie in to this week's Nurse and Technician Appreciation Week? Simple, these modern day heroes are providing precision care to our friends and family and are directly responsible for the health and wellbeing of those near and dear to our hearts. As the 460th Medical Group commander Col. Michael Kindt put it, "Nurses and medics are the face of this organization. The mission would not get done without the compassionate work they do day in and day out." They are generally the front line of care in our health care delivery system. Please take the time this week to thank your committed nurses and technicians.
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