International Nurses Day

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International Nurses Day is an international day observed around the world on 12 May of each year, to mark the contributions that nurses make to society.

Nutrition Network Managing Director, Jayne Bullen, has written a personal letter of appreciation to nurses around the world:

I have long believed that nurses are the hearts and heroes of healthcare. From the time I had my son and spent my first nights in the hospital, I was startled at how important nurses were and are in the hospital and healthcare environment and I wondered why they were so unseen and acknowledged. That was one of the longest nights of my life and I knew then that nurses are the real understated heroes of all hospitals.  They are the ones doing the real work with patients, 24-7. My experience of pregnancy and birth in the UK was – perhaps because I was lucky – that nurses and midwives were the key holders of health and hope in good old St Georges Hospital near London. As far as I have seen, this applies to all hospitals, but more particularly in Africa where healthcare budgets are tight and doctors time to spend with patients is limited. In South Africa, a specialist in a typical hospital visit a patient once a day, often for minutes, and then delegates medication and care to other teams of people, nurses being at the forefront and often the only person to comfort and support a person through their time during a hospital stay, which is usually one of the most traumatic times in a persons life.

I knew then as I do even more so today, that nurses are the front line in healthcare. They are the people doing the actual healing work in all the medical touch points we know for the duration of our lives: old age homes, neonatal wards, hospital wards, oncology wards, high care units, diabetes clinics and hospices are just some of the many, many places that are heroed by nurses who help us throughout life in so many ways. They are also key, critical allies to doctors, physicians and all specialists and do critical work to support specialization in medical care.

The first time I visited a rural hospital on the outskirts of Nairobi during a research trip, was a poignant moment for me in my understanding of the actual work nurses do. It was a clinic in desperate need of funding and massively overcapacity in terms of beds and space. I will never forget the experience. We parked nearby and walked in, over possibly several hundred patients who were lying out in the hot sun and dust waiting for care. My translator told me that there was little chance that any of these patients were going to get access to see a doctor that day, nor get the medication they needed. Working the pavement were a group of about forty volunteer nurses who were doing basic wound cleaning and care and triaging patients that did need to get into the wards asap. They were literally out on a street pavement providing hope for the very ill, desperate and near dying. That day changed me forever in my undemanding of what support is needed in terms of basic healthcare provision and I took a much deeper level of empathy home with me after that trip to Kenya.

I knew how much nurses matter as providers of heart and hope.

My work with Eat Better South Africa and The Noakes Foundation has lead me to really see the front line of healthcare in this country more acutely, in particular when it comes to chronic disease in state healthcare systems. Nurses are the ones doing most of the educating and primary care. They are the ones taking your blood, taking your blood pressure and swabbing your son’s bleeding finger that needs a stitch, at the same time, giving him a tissue and telling him and his mom that they are going to be fine! In Groote Schuur, Dr Hassina Kajee introduced me to many of the amazing nurses who work there and made me aware of the pressures they face – working long hours, late shifts and dealing with daily immeasurable human suffering. In her ward, she ran a nurses LCHF program and I met thirty-odd incredible healthcare heroes that had taken on a Banting challenge and made it their own in difficult circumstances. It was then, on that day in Groote Schuur, I decided that we needed to do better work to support nurses emotionally and nutritionally, both for themselves and their health and also for their patients as role models and carers!

In my training in Mind-Body Medicine in the USA a few years ago, I was in a small group with a male nurse. He had been in nursing in A and E for over 25 years and one day, had to up and leave and was doing this training to change his career. I asked him what triggered this impactful and sudden change and he said: obesity. I was stunned but assumed he meant his own as he was visibly obese so I didn’t want to ask detail or be insensitive to his condition. But, he himself carried on unprompted. It wasn’t his own health or weight that had been the reason he had to leave per se, but the trauma of his journey as a male nurse in a hospital ward in a clinic in California. He said most of his patients were morbidly obese and, as one of the few male nurses in the ward, he was expected to do most of the lifting, pulling and holding back of fat layers in surgery. It was so physically demanding, his back had given in and he had been struggling to do his job.

So here we are, taking the knowledge we have with regards to Low Carbohydrate Nutrition, to those in healthcare we feel will benefit from it and hopefully apply it into their many incredibly diverse areas of clinical application. I can’t thank each nurse I know, the many nurses on our Professional Training: LCHF for Nurses, already all over the world and mostly, the nurses here at home in South Africa whoa re doing this unbelievably important job of getting our country better and changing their longer-term health outlook. My hope is that our LCHF training supports you and we support you in your own health journey and the journey of the thousands of lives you are able to touch, help and hopefully improve in all the many ways you do: I bow to you all.

Thank you for who you are!

Jayne and the team at Nutrition Network


If you are a:

  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Private Nurse Practitioners
  • Midwives
  • Diabetic Nurse Educators
  • Registered Nurses

And would like to learn more about LCHF and it’s role in your practice, apply to enrol in our LCHF for Nurses online training. The training material is tailored to meet the clinical education and training needs of nurses working within a range of specialist clinical practice areas and is worth 15 CPD (Continuing Professional Development) units.

Apply here:

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