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Great Nurses Make for a Great System and a Great Life in Health Care

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
May 6, 2014

Happy National Nurses Week! 

My marvelous wife is a nurse, and I am very proud of my son-in-law who is a nurse. Nurses have made a very strong contribution to my life, my career, and my learning.  From the very start of my career in medicine, when I volunteered in a surgical intensive care unit at a major trauma center while in college, nurses showed me their incredible professionalism, knowledge, caring, and compassion. 

I learned how much they do to care for patients and how they spend all day and night with patients, though the doctor was only at the bedside for minutes. That year and the next, when I actually got a paying job in the unit as a unit secretary, the nurses taught me how to read EKGs and how to interpret common laboratory tests, giving me a step up when I got to medical school. 

It was scary to one day be a medical student, and the next a physician. When I started my residency, I knew that the nurses were the key to my success.  I realized that the nurses who had worked in the units I now had to take call for would often know the answer if I didn’t and could keep me from making mistakes if I would include them in my decision-making, and they did. 

Later on, in my practice, my office nurse made my office hum and delighted my patients. She was incredible, and we were a great team. 

When I went into administration, I quickly found that nurse managers, supervisors, directors, and executives helped me make great decisions that were far better than they would have been if I made those decisions on my own.

And every time I have been a patient, nurses have been kind, compassionate, expert, and always reassuring. 

So to the nurses, whatever your role, today is your day.  Thank you for your education, training, and experience. Thank you for your tireless efforts to improve quality and patient safety. Thank you for your ceaseless caring and compassion, no matter what is going on in your own life. 

You inspire me when I see you in action, when I see you holding the hand of a patient, and when I see the lengths you go to for your patients. I am so grateful that St. Luke’s Health System has the best and most caring nurses.  Happy National Nurses Week!  I appreciate you.


About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.