The theme of National Nurses Week 2015, running from May 6-12, 2015, is "Ethical Practice. Quality Care," and Springer Publishing Company is proud to honor the nurses whose incredible dedication to the highest standards of care serves as an inspiration to us all. The following is a story from our very own nursing hero, Diana Guthrie, PhD, FAAN, author of Management of Diabetes Mellitus, 6th Edition, where she recounts what nursing has meant for her.

Being sent a “nurses cap” (from my role-model aunt) at the age of 3, focused me, even then, on the road to become a registered nurse. What a life “it has led.”  Further education, from RN to PhD, found me touching the lives of patients, students, and other professionals in the field of diabetes.  The result?  I landed up traveling all over the world and also teaching in both a medical school and school of nursing.

My nursing background, from the start of attending a three year diploma school, gave me the understanding, knowledge, and time to work with those in need whether patients or future professionals.  It also aided me in helping professionals to alter their responses to patients in a greater level of understanding of how the cultural, spiritual/religious beliefs, mental, emotional and levels of experienced stress needed to be addressed in order to alter the physiological and psychological functioning of the person with diabetes.

One case comes to mind. I remember the highly stressed young Mrs. T.  This was in the early days when biofeedback enhanced relaxation training was considered inappropriate for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus.  Reading the literature made me think that the hypoglycemia experienced mid-afternoon was due more to the NPH peak of action (when it was popular to give just one dose of this insulin to cover the 24 hours of blood glucose levels) than from the increased relaxation the person developed from the biofeedback training.  At that time, Drs. Robert Jackson and Richard Guthrie were known for their medical management of normalizing blood glucose levels by the “split-mixed” insulin program.  Education was the key and self management was that controlling factor.

“Let your blood glucose levels be your guide” – or the use of the Pattern Approach to diabetes management, gave me the understanding, opportunity and direction to teach ways to reach improved physiologic functioning. As Mrs. T. became able to be more relaxed, her blood glucose levels lowered and leveled out.  Higher insulin doses were less needed as she learned to decrease her previous dose of insulin before relaxation practice and to maintain lower insulin levels as she was able to better control herself  and the stressors around her.

The results?  We recently retired and found that she was still alive and, not amazing to us, not suffering from complications so associated with higher blood glucose levels.

Nursing assessment, interventions, and education aided me to support her and other patients as they travelled the path of life, living with a potentially fatal, chronic disease.  I owe this to the instructors and professors that helped me gain the knowledge to more effectively work with individuals no matter what their background, education, and/or expertise.