Kristy Wikum

I have always had an appreciation for nurses and nursing staff — not only because my sister is a nurse but because of the vast amount of work they do so well, each and every day. 

With National Nurse’s Month just being recognized in May and National Nursing Assistant Week occurring from June 16 to June 22, I want to thank all of the nursing for the amazing work they do — especially during this pandemic.

As a therapist working in healthcare, it became very evident early in my career that nursing plays a key role in the outcomes of our patients. Nursing carries out our specific recommendations on such things as how to walk a patient, how to feed a patient, how to dress a patient and many other critical areas for their recovery.  

Nursing is also vitally important in making the therapy department aware of patients that have had significant declines in their functional activities. Nursing assistants play a crucial role in observing these decreases, as they spend so much time assisting the patients. Therefore, therapists’ need to work cohesively with the nursing staff is critically important.

When I speak to new graduates about what it is like to work in healthcare, I always include the important role that nursing plays in helping with our jobs. I tell these new therapists to reach out to nursing staff members immediately and start developing strong relationships with them. It is obvious that new therapists develop solid bonds with their therapy teams; yet, it is just as important to extend work associations to nursing, which then allows you to do your work with much more ease.

Having worked in the healthcare profession for more than thirty years, I do recognize that nurses and therapists get into disagreements once in a while. While this can be extremely frustrating, it is important to understand that these two professionals can have differing opinions as to what is best for the patient. The key is to have appreciation and respect for each other and differing thoughts as both points of view are based on experience and knowledge.  

Also, if you want to have an understanding of how hard nursing staff work, try doing their jobs. My staff had the opportunity to do just that at the beginning of the pandemic. As you may remember from an earlier article, our staff members were able to assist the nursing staff by taking on the role of Basic Care Aides. They literally had to step into their shoes.  

This experience taught my staff an inordinate amount about what nursing assistants had to do each and every day. When the therapy staff was able to go back to treating patients again later that year, they were extremely glad, but they had a new appreciation for all that nurses do. Augmenting the work of nurses gave our therapists a much greater understanding of the entire nursing staff.

So, with great admiration, respect and appreciation, I want to again thank all nursing staff for the incredible and challenging work they do each day.

Kristy Wikum, MS, CCC-SLP has more than 32 years of management experience and is currently the CEO/President of Centrex Rehab.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.