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Health care is ever-changing. Those involved in the industry are challenged to quickly adapt in order to continue to meet the needs of patients, families and communities within the context of unknown and uncertain public policy.

What has remained steady over many years, however, is the public perception of nurses. Annual surveys repeatedly rank nursing as the most trusted profession in health care.

The desire to care for others is often what calls people to become nurses. They bring caring and compassion to their roles that complement the skills and knowledge acquired through educational programs, advanced degrees and integration of new technology.

As nurses partner with patients and families to promote health and healing, prevent illness and injury and ease suffering, their ability and desire to care are foundational.

Wherever a patient is in need, a nurse will be close by. This may be at the bedside during a

hospitalization, providing and coordinating complex care needs, in patients’ homes at the end of life providing hospice care or in the clinic or community, where they may teach, support and serve as a care navigator.

Nurses are in the delivery room when a new life enters the world and at the scene of an accident, working as part of a team committed to saving a life. They strive to provide excellent care with intellect and compassion, regardless of the setting or patient and family circumstances.

Nurses Week is a time to consider the many opportunities for a nurse in the 21st century. Nurses are found in many settings, including hospitals, public schools, clinics, patient homes and surgery centers, and often serve as primary care providers. Nurses also extend their unique perspective and service into areas beyond direct patient care, such as leadership, infection prevention, performance improvement, research, informatics, public health and case management.

The industry of health care will always be present, but how and where care is delivered is evolving quickly. Over the next several years, there is anticipated to be a shift from care provided in hospital settings to that which is community-based. Looking forward, there will be opportunities for nurses to be out in the community and clinics as part of care teams focusing on how to achieve and sustain a state of health within a population, while also promoting optimal outcomes for those living with chronic disease.

It is an exciting time to be a nurse entering the profession.

In the Magic Valley area, St. Luke’s employs approximately 700 nurses across multiple settings. All are committed to promoting better outcomes for patients and their families. They do this because they care which is foundational to our profession.

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Valerie Leonard is the director of nursing and patient care at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center.

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