In recognition of nurses for their time and efforts

David Huffstutler is president and chief executive officer of St. David’s HealthCare, which employs more than 3,100 nurses in Central Texas.

Last month, news coverage about the fertilizer plant explosion in West included a story that resonated with me. A nurse who worked at a nursing home that had collapsed from the explosion was at home, 20 miles from the plant at the time of the blast. However, when she heard the massive noise from so far away, she rushed to the nursing facility to help evacuate residents. Similar stories abounded about the heroic work of nurses during the aftermath of the bombing at the Boston Marathon. As do so many nurses every single day, these nurses went beyond their traditional call of duty and saved lives.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of registered nurses is expected to increase 26 percent from 2010 to 2020. The Bureau of Labor Statistics attributes this growth to an increased emphasis on preventative care, technological advancements and the fact that the aging baby-boomer population continues to require healthcare services as they live longer and more active lives.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports there were 3.5 million employed nurses in 2011. Of those nurses, 78 percent were RNs — 64 percent of whom worked in hospitals.

There’s a reason people are moving more and more to this wonderful profession. Studies indicate that nurses are among the most trusted healthcare professionals in the country. A nurse is usually the first person a patient sees when he or she falls ill and the last one they see when they leave the hospital. Every day, nurses leave indelible impressions on their patients. Their worth is truly immeasurable.

On behalf of St. David’s HealthCare, thank you to all nurses for your compassion and commitment. Whether you serve right here in Central Texas, or in Boston, in West, or anywhere else in the country, you truly are making a difference.