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Nurses: gentle hand, calming presence

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE -- A gentle hand wrapping a bandage, a steadfast assistant in an operating room, a calming presence for a Soldier wounded in battle, nurses are widely known for providing care to the sick and wounded, but they also are ...

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE -- A gentle hand wrapping a bandage, a steadfast assistant in an operating room, a calming presence for a Soldier wounded in battle, nurses are widely known for providing care to the sick and wounded, but they also are multifaceted professionals. Nurses have been influential leaders in healthcare reform, healthcare education, research, and humanitarian efforts.

Since the days of emptying bedpans, caring for hundreds of patients at one time, and serving in times of war, nurses have come into their own. Today's nurse helps to reshape healthcare delivery and has earned a new respect, not only as a bedside care giver, but also as an educator, researcher, critical thinker, inventor and leader.

In the summer of 1948, Air Force General Order No. 35 established a medical service with the following officer personnel components: medical corps, dental corps, nurse corps, medical service corps, veterinary corps, and women's medical specialist corps. Since that time, Air Force nurses have distinguished themselves in the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict and all the wars since. Throughout its history, the Air Force Nurse Corps has earned the deep respect and gratitude of the American people because of its dedication to providing the best possible care to our airmen, soldiers and their families while serving our country in war and peace.

Air Force nurses have unselfishly come to the aid of victims of disaster and disease throughout the world. Over time, the mission has grown broader, yet there has been one constant -- the devotion of the individual nurse in providing excellent nursing care.

Air Force nurses perform comprehensive health assessments and render direct patient care, including assessing, diagnosing, planning, and prescribing pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatment of health problems, health promotion and preventive care. Their main focus is promoting wellness and preventing illness and injury.

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Today, as our Airman and Soldiers stand on point for our nation, defending freedom across the globe, they can rest assured, should they become wounded or ill, and an Air Force nurse will be by their side during their time of need.

In honor of the tireless efforts of the nearly 2.9 million registered nurses nationwide, we celebrate National Nurses Week May 6 through May 12, recognizing the invaluable services nurses provide seven days a week, 365 days a year. The theme of National Nurses Week 2008 is "Nurses: Making a Difference Every Day."

"The Army nurse is the symbol to the soldier of help and relief in his hour of direst need. Through mud and mire, through the mark of campaign and battle, wherever the fight leads, she patiently and gallantly seeks the wounded and distressed. Her comfort knows no parallel. In the heart of all fighting men, she is enshrined forever."

-- General Douglas MacArthur, December 1944

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