As I think about healthcare and nursing from when I graduated over 30+ years ago, I never imagined we would be fighting a foe we can’t see but, whose effects are relentless and omnipotent. Nature is clearly showing us she has the upper hand. As we conclude Nurses Month, I want to share a few things I’ve learned from being on the frontline with you.
Be open to learning and sharing knowledge.
We are all in the same situation, learning everyday to manage the next curve ball this virus throws at us. As we learn to manage the acute hypoxemic respiratory failure, this virus decides to teach us a lesson about coagulopathy, and so on and so on. One thing is abundantly clear, in order to beat this thing, we need to be open to learning and sharing knowledge. We need to use the evidence and best practice we know but, realize the evidence will be changing frequently and we need to be okay with it.
This is a team sport.
Everyone is in scrubs and behind personal protective equipment (PPE). You can’t tell who is the physician, nurse, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, respiratory therapist, etc. unless they have their badge in clear view or have their name or a picture taped to their isolation gown. Everyone is equally important, and we all have a role to play. And in case you didn’t realize it, caring for these patient’s is a team sport (especially proning).
We are family.
Perhaps the saddest part of this pandemic is that patients are without their family or loved ones. They say good-bye at the door, and they may or may not see each other again. Notice I didn’t say “they are alone.” Healthcare professionals are treating these patients as if they were our sister, brother, mother, father, or significant other. We are with the patient during intubation, proning, procedures and even when death is inevitable. We celebrate the wins and cry with the losses.
Phoning home is the next best thing.
We have become adept with using tablet devices and smart phones to improve communication between patients and their families. As ET asked Elliott to “phone home,” that is exactly what we are doing. Though not the same as being there in person, families are grateful for the chance to see their loved one and talk to those caring for them. Nurses have been at the core of making this happen.
Being a nurse is a calling and I am so glad I answered that call.
When I was a young girl, I always dreamed about being a nurse; it is who I am and I have never been more proud than I am today about being a nurse and nurse practitioner. Yes, I am afraid; I am afraid of the patients who I don’t know have COVID-19 and bringing it home to my family. I am sad when despite what we do for patients, some will die. I know I can’t dwell on what I can’t do for the patient, instead I focus on what I can do.
Nursing is resilient.
When I read the stories about nurses having to work without adequate PPE and staffing, it troubles me and I fully believe as a country we can do better. When I look in the mirror and see the marks from the mask on my face and on the faces of my colleagues, I wonder how much longer this situation will continue.
It brings tears of gratitude to my eyes when people donate PPE and food, bring thank you cards, and clap at change of shift. I wonder when this pandemic is over, how different our new normal will be.
Most of all, I wonder what the nursing profession will look like when this is over? I’m hopeful that as a profession we recognize the importance of selfcare so we can continue caring for others.
I believe nursing will be resilient because caring about people is at the core of who we are and what we do, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.