The VA Maryland Health Care System celebrates National Nurses Week (May 6-12) by honoring the dedicated men and women who have mastered the art and science of caring for our nationís heroes with compassion. We consider our nurses — the largest profession in our organization at 1,100 strong, of which 700 are RNs and nurse practitioners — to be the compassionate backbone of the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system.
The theme of National Nurses Week 2012 is ďNurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring,Ē and no one puts more passion into the health care profession than VA nurses. VA is the nationís largest single employer of nurses, and VA nurses lead their profession in education and training, clinical responsibility and research. But their passion comes from VAís mission — caring for our veterans — and I want to thank VA nurses in particular for their continued dedication to serving our nationís heroes, and nurses in general for their willingness to make a difference in the lives of patients everywhere.
VA nurses are integral and equal members of our health care teams who are dedicated to providing cost-effective, safe and quality health care services. No other health care professional is closer to the veterans we serve than a VA nurse. Our patients rely on them for their compassion, and the VA relies on them for setting the highest clinical care standards. That reliance is well placed. VAís recognition as a leader in health care, patient safety and research is due in large part to its nurses. In an era of unprecedented change in health care, VA nurses continue to accept each challenge as an opportunity to meet the needs of veterans and their family members and to develop innovative approaches that are recognized as best practices.
I am deeply proud and grateful to be associated with the 1,100 stellar nurses who serve veterans throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System and of all of our nationís 3.1 million registered nurses who work tirelessly to keep us well and save lives around the clock each and every day.
Dennis H. Smith is director of the VA Maryland Health Care System.