National Nurses Day is celebrated each year on May 6. It’s also the first day of National Nurses Week, which recognizes the contributions that nurses make to our communities. It ends on May 12 to recognize the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of nursing as we know it today.
Castleton Nursing students gathered on May 6 for the inaugural Nursing Excellence Day, an event that featured poster and oral presentations by nearly 50 graduating seniors, speeches, and more.
Interim President Dr. Thomas Mauhs-Pugh welcomed guests, reflecting on the history of Castleton’s Nursing program – which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year – and acknowledging the excellence of nurses.
“They are one of the most well-rounded, smart, capable group of people that I’ve ever encountered, anywhere, in any profession,” he said.
He thanked the University’s community and clinical partners, who dedicate countless hours to supporting students.
“They have so many pressures on them in normal times. And during the pandemic, it’s hard to even begin to appreciate the demands of their time and energy. I am deeply grateful for their amazing work and for their generosity and sharing their experience, their knowledge, and their wisdom,” he said. “It’s an extraordinary, complex undertaking to develop a nurse.”
Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services Jenney Samuelson was also on hand to congratulate graduates and to recognize the role nurses have in our communities.
“Today reflects a culmination of years of hard work. It’s worth pausing and recognizing that you’re coming to the end of your nursing education at a historic and pivotal time for our state, our country, and for the healthcare system,” she said.
She also noted the impact nurses had on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While many headed home, our nurses headed into service, braving the unknown in Vermont and across the country. You treated the sick – taking care of the person, taking personal risks for yourselves and your families, and caring for people the best that you could when there were no treatments. There were nurses who helped patients address their fears and who were there when their families couldn’t be there with them,” she said.
The event’s keynote speaker was Dr. Pamela Duchene, who serves as vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC). Duchene added a fun twist to the day, inviting students to play “Family Feud” – nursing style.
“I am so overwhelmed and impressed with the work that’s going on here. All of the evidence-based practice projects that you have, the studies you’ve been doing, and – thinking about all you soon-to-be nurses, just know that you’re adding to your practice,” said Duchene. “Honestly, you give me hope for the future.”