Across Florida, there are thousands of nurses with a passion and commitment to care for others in their greatest times of need. This week, May 6 through 12, the Florida Department of Health in Franklin and Gulf counties will join partners across the community to celebrate National Nurses Week and highlight the diverse ways nurses are working to improve health care.

Today, there are more than 400,000 nursing professionals in Florida who play a vital role in maintaining the health of Floridians.

“The knowledge and skills of public health nurses enable them to make significant contributions to public health,” said Sarah Hinds, administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Franklin and Gulf counties. “Public health nurses work in a variety of health department programs, including clinical services such as immunizations and family planning; disease surveillance; preparedness and disaster response; School Health; Healthy Start; and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) services. This week, we recognize their dedicated service to providing the highest quality of care to residents of Gulf and Franklin.”

Nurses make up a large portion of Florida’s health care workforce. Almost everyone has had an interaction with a nurse, whether it be in a hospital, health clinic, private practice, home care setting or school environment.

According to Gallup’s 2018 Honesty and Ethics Survey, more than four in five Americans (84 percent) rate the honesty and ethical standards of nurses as "very high" or "high," earning them the top spot among a diverse list of professions for the 17th consecutive year. With the exception of 2001, when firefighters were on the list after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, nurses have far outpaced all other professions since their addition to the list two decades ago.

Gov. DeSantis recently signed two proclamations acknowledging the importance and efforts of Florida’s nurses in health care and school settings.

DOH-Franklin/Gulf also recognizes Wednesday, May 8 as School Nurse Day - a day to recognize Florida’s more than 1,178 registered professional school nurses for the important work they do on behalf of students. School nurses are an essential component to the health and well-being of students, particularly those with acute and chronic health conditions.

“Since working in public health over the years, I have found joy and satisfaction in helping families, whether it was an infant coming in for his or her immunizations, the expectant mother coming for her initial prenatal appointment or educating students on making healthy lifestyle choices,” said Vanessa Edenfield, RN, school health coordinator for the Florida Department of Health in Franklin County. “Public health connects us all. We are very fortunate to have the nurses in Franklin and Gulf counties who are dedicated to their profession and willing to make a difference in their communities.”

During the 2017-18 school year, Florida’s school health nurses served more than 2.8 million students and supervised more than 25 million services to keep Florida’s students safe and healthy while at school. For many of these students, without nursing services, attendance would decrease, or students would be unable to attend school.

School Health staff see a lot of students every day for health services. In fact, 34,150 visits were made to school clinics in Franklin and Gulf during the 17-18 school year. The return to class percentage among visits is 90 percent in Franklin and 96 percent in Gulf, keeping kids in school and ready to thrive. Services provided include care management for health conditions, student medications and health care procedures, immunizations, health screenings, parent communication and student health education.

The Florida Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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