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Nurses Week 2017: Reflections from Dr. Charlita Shelton

Posted on by Dallas Nursing Institute

It’s Nurses Week! And as we commemorate such an important event here at DNI, I can’t help but to think of various nurses’ contributions to our country, including the pioneers such as Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole, Margaret Sanger, Clara Barton, Friar Juan de Mena. It was in the 19th century when incredible developments came about in the field of medicine. Nurses were needed during these conflicts, and in current day the profession of nursing has made a great impact within the world.

A few days ago, I was having a conversation with one of our faculty members about collectable dolls and other collectables based on various older TV shows. (My undergraduate degree is in communications with an emphasis in radio and television production, so I am a bit of a TV buff.) During our conversation, she mentioned having a Julia lunch box when she was young in reference to the TV show “Julia,” which aired from 1968 to 1971. The show depicted an African-American working nurse who at the same time was a single mom raising her son. “Julia” was nominated for a Golden Globes award, and Diahann Carroll (who played the role of this starring character) won a Golden Globe in 1969. The show was also nominated for several Primetime Emmy Awards.

Most of the attention the show received had to do with Julia being the first African-American woman to have her own TV series and not being depicted as a stereotype. Certainly, this was something to be proud of. Let’s face it. The late ‘60s was a turbulent time—the civil rights movement, the assassination of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., riots in the streets of our most populous cities, and the Vietnam War. I can see why the focus on Julia made sense from a race standpoint. The show was considered groundbreaking. However, what I also remember most about Julia was that she was a nurse. She cared for her patients and painted nurses in the most wonderful light through the lens of a fictional TV show. It also brought positive attention to the nursing profession.

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You, as nursing faculty and our students, will soon be nurses. You will have a platform and an audience in our age of social media and community relations. You are being watched and listened to as the daughter, mother, sister, son, father, or brother of family members and by Facebook friends, Twitter, and Instagram followers. You are the real life Julia or the Clara Barton in their lives. They see your dedication and your desire to pursue a caring profession.

Healthcare is an important topic in the news as of late. The acknowledgment that good healthcare is a foundation for a strong country highlights the importance of your career choice not only in striving to bring healing to patients but also as an influential backbone of this nation. I salute you and encourage you to continue your good efforts as role models for those who surround you.

So as we celebrate National Nurses Week, let’s think of all aspects of this time of celebration, even if it comes to us from a fictitious TV show from the 1960s.

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