DEAR ABBY: It seems every week I am reminded in some form or another that teachers are the least respected, least compensated, most noble persons in our country. Exalted by politicians and the media, they are consistently portrayed in a positive manner. I believe this is deserved. They have a tough job with great responsibility.
However, Abby, there are other professions just as noble. I am a registered nurse, and along with police officers and firefighters, we do not receive the respect that teachers do. We perform tasks that no one else would want to do. We see people at their worst and are often the target of other people's frustrations.
Nurses do not get summers off, and few of us are home on holidays. Hospitals must be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The pay is fair, but the work is extremely stressful. As health-care spending decreases, nurses are asked to do more and more. The rate of back injuries among nurses is well above the national average. Many nurses suffer from "burnout" each year and transfer to other professions.
Like doctors, nurses must have continuous training in order to stay up-to-date on the latest medical treatments and protocols.
At least once in our lives, every one of us can remember being helped by a nurse. Please, Abby, tell your readers that if they know a nurse, to give him or her a hug. Take the nurse to lunch and tell that person just how special he or she is. -- PROUD TO BE AN R.N.
DEAR PROUD: Thank you for reminding my readers -- and me -- how terrific and dedicated nurses are. I urge everyone to give nurses the attention and praise they deserve during National Nurses' Week, May 6-12, 2001, and EVERY day.