CATES: Let’s all celebrate nurses this weekCarol Cates is the chief nursing officer at Odessa Regional Medical Center. You can reach her via e-mail at

As we are wrapping up National Nurses Week and entering into National Hospital Week, I want to take the time to focus on nurses.  National Nurses Week was established in 1993 to honor nurses and the work we do. It is always celebrated during the week that contains May 11th, the birthday of the Mother of Modern Nursing, Florence Nightingale. 

As a nurse, I wanted to talk a little bit about what it means to be a nurse, and to personally thank all of the nurses in the Permian Basin for the wonderful work they do. I am so privileged to be among the very special men and women who carry a nursing license and make caring for others their life’s work.

Florence Nightingale defined nursing as, “an art requiring an organized and practical scientific training”. I often think most people do not think of nurses as scientists—I even think most nurses don’t think of themselves as scientists, but we are. We use evidence and research to create the foundation of nursing processes. One of the things I love about Florence Nightingale is she is not only the Mother of Modern Nursing, she is also considered as one of the great early influencers in the field of statistics—something every scientist and researcher uses.

What makes nursing different than most science-based professions, however, is the first part of Florence Nightingale’s definition. It is an art. Jean Watson, a prominent nursing theorist, put into words how I think most nurses feel about their patients. “Maybe this one moment, with this one person, is the very reason we’re here on Earth at this time.” Those words are where the art of nursing comes into play. Nursing is more than giving medications, dressing wounds, and helping physicians in their work. It is being a support for people when they are at their most vulnerable—when they are quite literally naked and afraid.

It is understanding there is a difference between caring about someone and caring for someone. Nurses understand that when you care about patients, caring for is a given. Nurses understand their first job is to advocate for their patient. Nurses understand that advocacy means standing up for the patient’s decisions about their healthcare, even if the nurse disagrees with those decisions. They understand nursing is stressful, mentally and physically, and they understand the difference they can make for others makes all the stress worth it.

I am so proud and honored to be a nurse. I am proud to be a member of a profession that every year except one since the “Most Trusted Professions” survey has existed has been named the Most Trusted Profession. The year we didn’t win, was the year of 9/11, that year we came in second to firefighters. I am very okay with that.

I am proud to practice the art and science of nursing. Mostly, though I am humbled and honored to be able to care for and about others every day. I get to have the opportunity to experience Jean Watson’s one moment with one person. Not everyone gets to say that.

Lastly, I want to say thank you to the nurses of the Permian Basin. You are my colleagues, you are my mentors, and you are more than my friends, you are my brothers and sisters. I recently had a major health crisis in my family, and the nurses didn’t just take care of my loved one, they took care of me, too. I cannot say thank you enough for all of the things you do. Nurses are amazing.

If you have a nurse in your life who has made a difference for you, please recognize that nurse. Several of the nursing leaders in the Permian Basin have gotten together to form an organization called the Permian Basin Great 25 Nurses. The goal of the Great 25 is to recognize 25 amazing nurses in the Permian Basin every year. The honored nurses are nominated by the community and the story of how they made a difference is graded by a group of their peers. The 25 best are then honored in a public ceremony. If you would like to recognize a nurse, please go to and nominate that person.