Nursing has once again been voted the most trusted profession in America. Merriam-Webster defines trust as the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” We, as nurses, hold the firm belief of the American people in our abilities, reliabilities and, foremost, in our integrity and truth telling. Yet there is a secret among us. A secret that is ignored.
Our secret: We, as nurses, believe what we teach to our patients doesn’t always pertain to us. We see ourselves as untouchable from disease—especially heart disease—in addition to other chronic conditions and contributing behaviors. I subscribed to this in my own practice. I experienced symptoms of hypertension but ignored it. Then, at a routine physical, I made my physician take my blood pressure five times before I agreed that maybe, just maybe, I might be hypertensive. I negotiated a 30-day trial to see if I could do something before utilization of medication. Then I did research. I was shocked to learn nurses are some of the worst in taking care of their hearts. I discovered the Nurses’ Health Study and how it demonstrated the correlation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), specifically in women with the associated higher onset of cardiovascular disease. Many nurses suffer from PTSD and do not recognize it within themselves. Many nurses have cardiovascular disease and/or behaviors that contribute to a future diagnosis of heart issues.
Last year, Medline donated more than $60,000 to the American Heart Association (AHA) in its mission to fight heart disease. The company is working with AHA again, along with the American Nurses Association, to touch the hearts of nurses and others. To change their numbers for the better.
Nurses have the opportunity to change the health of America through our individual actions. We are 3.4 million strong, and if each and every one of us adopted one behavior that improves our own individual health, we can improve the health and hearts of this nation.
As the most trusted profession in the country, it is time for a call to action. It is time for us to make a change for ourselves.