Happy Nurses Week! We believe this year’s theme, Rooted in Strength, is highly fitting for the CNAs, LPNs, and RNs on the front lines of care fighting the good fight for their patients—and we wholeheartedly celebrate you. If any profession is rooted in strength, it’s nursing.
“Nurses are rooted in strength, forged in fire, and growing in power. Rooted in strength, we create our new path forward as leaders in healthcare.”
—AACN President Beth Wathen
Throughout history, pivotal nurses like Florence Nightingale, Mary Eliza Mahoney, Edward Lyon, and Virginia Henderson have used their strength and courage to help shape and grow the profession into what it is today.
While you’re probably familiar with Florence Nightingale and Mary Eliza Mahoney, you may not recognize the names Edward Lyon and Virginia Henderson. Edward Lyon, a nurse anesthetist, was the first man to be commissioned in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. Virginia Henderson was behind the development of nursing theory, carefully and clearly defining the roles of nurses in health care.
Nowadays, we have influential nurses, such as Amy O’Sullivan, Bonnie Castillo, Blake Lynch, and Sam Roecker, who carry the torch in taking the profession to the next level.
Named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2020, Amy O’Sullivan, a veteran ER nurse at Wyckoff in Brooklyn, treated the first COVID-19 at the hospital. Sadly, this patient ended up being the city’s first COVID death. Shortly after treating this patient, O’Sullivan got the virus and spent four days on a ventilator. And two weeks later, she was back serving on the frontlines of the pandemic. O’Sullivan represents the millions of healthcare workers worldwide who risked everything to help others.
Another one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2020, Bonnie Castillo, a registered nurse and executive director of National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association, was among the first to draw attention to the lack of PPE available to nurses during COVID-19. She also fought layoffs and pay cuts that nurses faced despite their vital frontline work.
Primarily known as Nurse Blake, Lynch is a nurse influencer who, along with intensive care nurse Abby Donley, launched a petition demanding better working conditions for nurses. With more than 500,000 signatures, this safe-staffing petition ranks in the top 10 largest healthcare campaigns of all time. Also, through his videos on Instagram and TikTok, Lynch helps the public and other health care workers better understand how nurse-to-patient ratios impact care.
Registered nurse Sam Roecker has experienced first-hand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the mental health of health care workers. Her close friend, a physician’s assistant, put her life on the line for months to care for COVID patients and now suffers from PTSD, anxiety, and depression. So, to raise awareness of the need for mental health support for nurses, Roecker ran the 2022 Boston Marathon in scrubs, hoping to break the Guinness World Record for the “fastest marathon run in a nurse’s uniform.” And she did just that, crossing the finish line at 2 hours, 48 minutes, and 2 seconds—about 20 minutes under the previous record.
When it comes to influential nurses of the past and essential nurses of today, the only difference between the generations is education and technology. At the end of the day, all nurses are rooted in strength, making it their mission to create the best outcomes for their patients and the profession.