Country Joe McDonald Pays Tribute to Nursing at Samuel Merritt University
Singer and songwriter, Country Joe McDonald, the lead singer and co-founder of the 1960s rock group Country Joe & the Fish, kicked off National Nurses Week by performing his musical tribute to Florence Nightingale and Nursing on May 7 at the Health Education Center on the SMU Oakland campus. The School of Nursing (SoN) were in attendance to hear the one-man concert.
"Through his storytelling, music and humor, he showed his respect for nurses, and I felt very honored," said Fusae Kondo Abbott, RN, DNSc, Associate Professor and Director, Case Management for SoN.
Joe McDonald, a veteran of the U.S. Navy and performer at the 1969 Woodstock concert in New York, said his nursing tribute was to show appreciation to all past, present, and future nurses. "Life without nurses would be terrible. The main focus for me is to celebrate nursing and the care they provide in saving lives and maintaining the health of millions of individuals."
"This focus and affirmation of the role of nursing where patient outcomes provide renewed energy for enhancement of patient safety," said Arlene Sargent, EdD, RN, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, SoN. "I believe it is important to celebrate Nurses Week because it provides the opportunity for us to reflect on the significant impact nurses have on patient health and recovery.
The one-hour concert included several original songs, interspersed with tales of Nightingale's contribution to nursing and the time she spent during the Crimean War aiding soldiers. "Emotionally, I gained a better understanding about Nightingale," said Abbott. "I was very impressed with his in-depth knowledge about the legendary heroine."
McDonald became interested in Florence Nightingale in 1981 when he met Lynda Van Devanter, whom he says was the first Vietnam War nurse to "come out" and speak for women in the military. The encounter inspired him to learn everything he could about Nightingale including visiting her home and gravesite in England, as well as the nursing school she attended in Kaiserwerth, Germany.
"When I started researching Florence Nightingale, I found the good work she did went unnoticed. Like Vietnam veterans, nurses sometimes go unappreciated, especially war nurses," said McDonald. "There are more than two million nurses around the country and someone needs to speak out about them and all that they do."
Country Joe is getting ready for his next concert in Bethel, New York. He is among the musical acts heading back to 'the garden' this summer for a 40th anniversary Woodstock celebration.
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