International Nurses Day, 12 May, is recognised all around the world as a chance to celebrate all of the hard work that nurses do.
But while the UK marks the occasion by holding a special ceremony in Westminster Abbey, a hairstylist’s sweet and simple post on Facebook has served as a near-perfect tribute to nurses everywhere.
According to TODAY.com, Jodi Black, 43, had popped into the Captivate Salon & Spa in Kentucky, USA, while wearing her scrubs, in order to get her hair done during one of her rare moments off. However, as stylist Ashley Bolling began applying hair foils, Black slowly was overcome with exhaustion and nodded off.
For a moment, Bolling stared at her client’s feet, which were resting on a chair. And, just like that, she found herself thinking about the endless hours that nurses spend on their feet, the way they give all of their being to the job, and the love and devotion they show their patients.
So, to thank nurses everywhere for their dedication to the job, Bolling decided to snap a photo of Black’s feet and share the image on Facebook.
“As she dozed off, I gently rested her head on my stomach and continued to foil her hair… then I noticed her shoes,” she captioned the snapshot. “I wondered how many miles those shoes have walked.”
Bolling continued: “I wondered what they’d walked through. Blood? Tears? In and out of the countless rooms of the patients she’s cared for? I wondered how many hours they’ve carried her, and all those like her, while they literally save the lives of those we love and hold the hands of the ones who can no longer fight that fight.
“But with those shoes propped up in that chair, phone in her lap, I got the chance to take care of her (even if it was just for a few hours) and I felt extremely honored to take care of such a hard working, inspiring woman
“I’ve always respected and valued these amazing superheroes and am proud to be the sister, daughter, niece, friend and hairstylist of so many. Know you are appreciated, know you are irreplaceable, know you are loved!”
It’s a message which has been well-received by nurses – particularly as theirs can be such a thankless job.
In October 2016, Caitlin Brassington, a nurse from Quessnaldn, Australia, shared a story on Instagram about running into an old acquaintance who had never seen her in her nursing uniform.
The acquaintance exclaimed she didn’t realise Brassington was “just a nurse” and that prompted her to post an impassioned response.
In the post, which made news around the world, Brassington shared just a handful of the responsibilities she has as “just a nurse”.
“I have helped babies into the world, many of whom needed assistance to take their first breath, and yet I am just a nurse,” she wrote. “I have held patients hands and ensured their dignity while they take their last breath, and yet I am just a nurse. I have counselled grieving parents after the loss of a child, and yet I am just a nurse.”
Brassington continued: “I have performed CPR on patients and brought them back to life, and yet I am just a nurse. I am the medical officer’s eyes, ears and hands with the ability to assess, treat and manage your illness, and yet I am just a nurse. I can auscultate every lung field on a newborn and assess which field may have a decreased air entry, and yet I am just a nurse.
“I can educate patients, carers, and junior nurses, and yet I am just a nurse. I am my patients’ advocate in a health system that does not always put my patients best interest first, and yet I am just a nurse.
“I will miss Christmas Days, my children's birthdays, and school musicals to come to work to care for your loved one, and yet I am just a nurse. I can take blood, cannulate and suture a wound, and yet I am just a nurse.
“I can manage a cardiac arrest in a newborn, a child or an adult, and yet I am just a nurse. I can tell you the dosage of adrenaline or amiodarone based on weight that your child may need to bring them back to life, and yet I am just a nurse.”
I am the medical officer’s eyes, ears and hands with the ability to assess, treat and manage your illness, and yet I am just a nurse
Brassington finished by writing: “I have the experience and knowledge that has saved people's lives. So, if I am just a nurse, then I am ridiculously proud to be one!”
Both Brassington and Bolling’s posts serve as reminders of the hard work medical professionals put in to help heal people every day – often at the sacrifice of their own personal wellbeing, from the emotional trauma that can result to the hours of sleep lost and precious time taken away from spending with family.
More importantly, they have opened our eyes to the fact that we need to show our appreciation for nurses every single day, rather than solely on 12 May each year.
After all, as one Instagram user pointed out: “Medical care wouldn’t be possible without your work.
“Having ‘just a nurse’ is what makes just the difference.”