I have volunteered for a variety of things throughout my life. It started as a teen when Debbie and I put on puppet shows for kids at the local library and ended last year when I had to quit my volunteer job at the local hospital to take a job that actually paid.

Of course, I still volunteer in various ways – writing things for free is the most obvious. But one thing I have voluntarily done for about thirty years now is filling out a questionnaire every couple years or so. I have been, and still am, a member of the Nurses’ Health Study.

This longitudinal study is run by Harvard and they are beginning their third grouping. I have been a member of study I and II and they are seeking out 100,000 nurses between the ages of 22 and 45 to help with III.

It used to be much more difficult to fill out the forms. First I had to open the mail, find a number two pencil, fill in all the spaces, put it back in the envelope, and take it out to the mailbox.

Nurses' Health Study III

Today, at my request, I am filling out form online. So all I have to do is click the link in an e-mail and answer the question and hit send. Study III will be all electronically driven.

I have always felt like this was some of the most important volunteering I do. This isn’t just helping my children and their school. It isn’t just for my small circle of friends and acquaintances. This helps everyone now and in all the future. This is helping researches find out ways to limit diseases and make life better.

While the findings might not last forever, they will be a starting point for further research. All the data is saved and can be data mined later to use for different research. This is very important work the researchers are doing. And they couldn’t do it without the committed continual responses from their data subjects.

They have a remarkable rate of response because their subjects are nurses. These are people who care about furthering medical science and they understand the value of longitudinal responses. They will take the 15-30 minutes every few years to further medical research because it is important. And quite frankly, it is easy.

Every once in a while, I get a mailing from Harvard. They inform me of what they have been studying and what the results show. And I’m a part of this huge project. I feel blessed to have been given a chance to be a part of something so large, so meaningful, so very important.

I’m also amazed that as a young mother with a bazillion things to do, I was wise enough to answer the first questionnaire. I certainly didn’t have to do that. I was busy. I worked, I had small kids, I had other things to do. I answered. Always curious, I answered. And thereby was given a chance to participate.

I would love to be able to share this feeling with my fellow nurses. Except I’m not a nurse anymore. I don’t have a hospital. I don’t know how to invite young nurses to participate in something that will thrill them thirty years later.

The letter said I could print it out and take it to work. I doubt that would do me any good. The only person in my office in the right age group is a rocket scientist, not a nurse. And  he isn’t female.

The best I can do is post this here. If you are interested and meet the requirement, click here. Nurses’ Health Study III. It’s a chance of a lifetime. It will do you good.