by Marilyn Tavenner
May 9, 2017
National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who founded modern nursing during in the mid-1800s. This week holds special importance to me as I reflect on my nearly 20 years working as a nurse. It has shaped my life and career ever since.
I became interested in being a nurse when I was a teenager. I grew up in a rural part of Virginia and volunteered at the local hospital, where I thrived and enjoyed spending time with patients and their families. This early experience inspired me to ultimately attend a diploma school of nursing in Roanoke, Va.
My first nursing job was in Charlottesville, Va., where I worked at the University of Virginia in critical care with open heart surgery patients. This was in the early 1970s, a time when cardiac surgery was done in teaching hospitals primarily. Learning and helping families, many of whom had traveled hundreds of miles for care, I built a solid foundation that has helped me throughout my career in health care.
My nursing background allows me to understand the many challenges people face when undergoing surgery or dealing with chronic illness. I saw how important preventive health, overall well-being, and financial security were to individuals and their families.
That is where health insurance steps in. It was what’s behind the long-term vision we began developing when I joined America’s Health Insurance Plans – to improve and protect the health and financial security of consumers, families, businesses, and communities.
In honor or National Nurses Week, it’s important for our current nursing workforce and future nurses to know that now more than ever, nursing skills are vital to the health and well-being of our country. Whether in independent clinical practice, hospital, or health plan roles, public policy, or in the home – it’s critical work that helps stakeholders across the industry come together to better care for the people we serve.
Marilyn Tavenner is President and CEO of AHIP.