As the saying goes, if you save one life, you're a hero. If you save a hundred lives, you're a nurse.
During Federal Nurses Week (Sept. 22-28), AFGE celebrates and recognizes the public service of registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses and nursing assistants in the federal government, including the thousands we are proud to represent at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Bureau of Prisons, and Indian Health Service.
Here are six of the many reasons why AFGE loves nurses.
More than 93,000 nurses at the Department of Veterans Affairs are not just health care providers to our nation’s heroes; they are their family. Fifty percent of VA employees are either veterans or share a home with a veteran. VA nurses understand the needs of our veterans better than anybody else and it shows.
Service members can count on maternity ward nursing staff to deliver their new bundles of joy. Every day, nurses at federal health care facilities around the country provide important advice to first-time parents. For instance, nurses in the Department of Defense counsel young mothers whose spouses have been deployed overseas and whose families are likely far away.
Nurses deal with life and death situations. If the hospital doesn’t have enough staff, a situation could turn deadly quickly. That's why every day, nurses on the frontlines advocate to make sure our hospitals have the resources they need. At the national level, AFGE has fought for many years for legislation to require safe nurse-patient ratios on the hospital floor and protect whistleblowers who report short staffing.
Public service is a deep calling for nurses in the government sector. Despite long hours, increasing workloads, and overcrowded aging facilities, federal nurses are at the side of our veterans, activity duty military personnel, and some of our most vulnerable populations.
When our care is on the line, we can count on nurses to be up-to-date on the training and education they need to deliver our care. AFGE fights for adequate training for federal nurses every day at the national and local levels.
Despite always being on their feet, nurses somehow find the time and energy to serve others even when they're off the clock. From union halls, to PTAs, social clubs, volunteer groups, and programs to help veterans and their families, nurses are part of our communities.