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A nursing shortage doesn't mean society has lost compassion. It means we don't pay nurses enough

A nursing shortage doesn't mean society has lost compassion. It means we don't pay nurses enough
A charge nurse monitors patients in a hospital emergency room during flu season last January. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Nursing is a respectable career, but it should not be romanticized. ("Nursing shortage is a sign that humanity's vital signs are weak," Opinion, April 9)

Being compassionate does not necessarily make someone a good nurse. Professionalism and technical skill are much more important. Nursing deserves respect, but putting the career on a pedestal does not solve the shortage of nurses in the U.S.

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People work so they earn wages. Nursing is a job that demands more than how much it is often compensated, and compassion has little to do with the career choices college students make.

With baby boomers retiring and the population growing older, and with fewer experienced nurses available, skilled nurses will be in higher demand. Many hospitals and other institutions are probably turning down applicants without this experience, as training costs time and money, and because inexperience can result in litigation.

Stephanie Lu, Moorpark

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To the editor: Nurses are not "cheap doctors." They are experts who care for those struggling to maintain their health through direct care, coordination and education. Caring for others is a noble endeavor that requires critical thinking, good judgment and compassion.

A career in nursing allows each nurse an opportunity to pursue his or her area of interest, whether it is caring for pregnant women, children in a hospital or a school, or adults in the hospital or in the community.

Our challenge is to promote nursing as noble endeavor built on little acts of kindness that make a difference, especially when combined with expertise. We need to encourage young people especially in underserved areas to consider nursing as a career by offering innovative health programs that not only educate but transform humanity.

Robin Gemmill, Burbank

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To the editor: I owe my life to the kindness of strangers, so I know what op-ed article writer Christie Watson is talking about in her plea for more nurses.

Admitted to the hospital with a condition requiring emergency open heart surgery, I found nothing but the kindness and compassion she describes among the "strangers" who provided the care I needed. One was a young man whose goal was to become a thoracic surgeon.

He was enrolled in a community college nursing program and was working in the hospital's cardiac care unit so he could learn firsthand what was involved. As he prepped me for surgery, he asked me if I would prefer a female nurse. I said no and was privileged to learn his story.

As a result, the evening prior to major surgery was a peaceful, introspective one for me. This nurse had touched both my body and mind not only with his skill, but with kindness and compassion.

Karen Scott Browdy, Fillmore

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To the editor: My thanks to Watson for bringing our attention to the most essential of human traits: the simple acts of everyday kindness.

Amy Luster, Santa Monica

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