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This week's Gazette Golden Pen Award letter was written by a long-time nurse who shares a firsthand perspective on the frustrations of a profession that has and is changing in the midst of a shortage. Thanks to Donna Blankenship for her insight.

Nurses taken from best patient care I'm writing in response to the article about nursing students and the cap ceremony being revived. I am a LPN working in Billings and have been a nurse 33 years. I was just talking to another nurse the other day regarding this very topic. I told her I wish we could wear caps again. I was so proud of my cap. It gave me a feeling of professionalism as a badge would be for a police officer. I've worked where I wore a badge at the detention center on King Avenue. I guess it's like any uniform, there is a pride there.

Nursing isn't like it used to be. There used to be more time to sit and hold a hand, comfort a sad, lonely patient, or just take time to lend an ear when the patient had something to say. Nothing makes the patient feel better or gives me a greater feeling that I have helped than when I can make a patient smile - even if it means to do a little joke, song or dance, hug or whatever it takes. They will get their pills and treatments as the doctor ordered, but hopefully, they'll get a little more.

Regulations by the government and the state have made nursing more paperwork than patient care and contact, which is why a lot of us older nurses went into the profession in the first place. It's no wonder there is a nursing shortage.

I know so many nurse friends of mine, including myself, who would not go into nursing again or encourage any other person to do so. The working short, the paperwork, is so overwhelming at times that it's no wonder nurses' life spans are cut short. I have lost two good nursing friends this past couple years to massive heart attacks. They were hardworking, overworked, frustrated nurses.

I know there have to be guidelines and regulations, but please not at the expense of a nurses shortage or the personal contact of patients.

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Donna L. Blankenship, LPN

Billings

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