Pope Francis speaks up for Nurses!Posted on March 5, 2018
Meeting a group of 6,500 Italian nurses, on 3 March 2018, Pope Francis thanked them for their valuable work, describing nurses as “experts in humanity”, and highlighting that “their role in assisting the patients is truly irreplaceable”.
Reminding the nurses of the four basic tasks of the nursing ethical code, namely, promoting health, preventing illness, restoring health and alleviating suffering, Pope Francis said their professionalism manifests itself not only in the technical field, but much more in the field of human relationships.
He also paid tribute to the Dominican nun who saved his life when he was just 20 years old, in Argentina, explaining that he was ill and close to dying, when Sister Cornelia Caraglio, who was a nurse from Italy working in Argentina, argued with the doctors about his treatment. Thanks to that he survived. The pope told the story to help illustrate the importance of the profession of nursing, saying “many lives, so many lives are saved thanks to you!”
Nurses, he said, are constantly engaged in the act of listening, in order to understand the needs of their patient, no matter what he or she is going through. “Like no other, the nurse has a direct and continuous relationship with patients, takes care of them every day, listens to their needs and comes into contact with their very body, that he tends to.”
He then reminded them that it is not enough to only rely on protocol, but that their job requires “a continuous – and tiring! – effort of discernment and attention to the individual person.” This makes the profession “a real mission,” and nurses “experts in humanity,” he said. This is particularly important in a society which often leaves weaker people on the margins, only giving worth to people who meet certain criteria or level of wealth, he noted.
The pope also told them that the sensitivity they acquire through their daily contact with patients makes them “promoters of the life and dignity of people.” “Be attentive,” he continued, “to the desire, sometimes unexpressed, of spirituality and religious assistance, which represents for many patients an essential element of sense and serenity of life, even more urgent in the fragility due to illness.”
He also acknowledged the difficulty of the profession with its risks and tiring shifts. Because of the demands on nurses, he encouraged patients to have patience with them, making requests without demanding, and also offering a smile.