Posted on May. 6, 2014 (
In medieval times, explorers made maps of the new territory they discovered on their journeys. At the edge of these maps, beyond where they had traveled, they sometimes wrote, “Here be dragons.”
It was a cautionary message that warned of the danger of the unknown, the mystery of uncharted areas, the uncertain fate that awaited those who journeyed too far. I wonder what adventures the mapmakers imagined were hidden beyond the words at the edge of the page. Who knows? Maybe these ancient adventurers just got tired of trying to explain all that they had seen - who would believe it anyway?
Perhaps it was just easier to say, “Here be dragons!”
May 6-12 is National Nurses Week, an opportunity to show our appreciation for the contributions made by nurses. There are 1.7 million nurses in the United States, and roughly 1/3 of the workforce at MultiCare Health System is made up of nurses.
Our organization benefits every day - actually, every minute - from the contributions that nurses make. And here is one extraordinary contribution: They are mapmakers. Explorers. Brave adventurers at the leading edge of health care. The skill a nurse brings to the job is an artful combination of science, observation, organization, and action.
Every day nurses go on journeys of discovery. They travel the landscape of recovery - the mountains and the valleys, the highs and lows. They chart the map of a patient's improvement with as much accuracy as possible. And just as the early explorers marked the course of a river or the curve of the shoreline, nurses mark the twists and turns of the progress of those in their care.
A nurse is aware of the landmarks and borders - the importance of family and friends, the significance of special days in an individual's life. A nurse shares the journeys of life with people whose journeys are often difficult. A nurse will frequently speak of "my patients," and a patient often speaks of "my nurse." In a recent Gallup opinion poll, the most trusted profession in America is nursing. Nurses are the kind of fellow travelers you want with you on a difficult journey.
And finally, nurses seem to know that the shoreline is not only where the water ends and the land begins, but it is also where the land joins the sea. Nurses are witnesses to the ebb and flow of life - from the joy of birth to the deep sorrow that accompanies death and loss.
They have been to the edge of the maps, they've seen the dragons, and they've brought the wisdom that comes from the journey back to us. Their maps are a guide for us, and their lives inspire us.
Bill Robertson, President and CEO
Bill Robertson has served as MultiCare's President and CEO since May 2014. He came from Adventist HealthCare, Inc., based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Prior to Adventist, Robertson served as CEO of Shawnee Mission Medical Center near Kansas City, Kansas. More stories by this author