I’ve Never Been More Proud to Be a Nurse
As a nurse myself, I love watching other nurses perform incredible work in the face of adversity. So, in January 2020, I started freelance writing about the nursing profession.
Almost simultaneously, the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold in the US. I observed my nurse peers facing some of the most stressful situations I have ever seen in my entire nursing career as an RN. Yet, nurses continue to persevere, put their patients' needs before their own, show incredible compassion to strangers, and save the lives of those afflicted with COVID-19.
Being a Nurse in 2020
Recently, mainstream support of nurses has developed in a way that has never been seen before. No longer are nurses being considered "just a nurse." Now they are being referred to as "heroes," which has frustrated some nurses, or "like soldiers going to war," which we have seen across the country — even though they are often going into battle without the proper protective gear.
But even though our healthcare system was vastly unprepared to fight against COVID-19, nurses have been ready and waiting to face a pandemic their entire careers. Even if they didn’t know it yet.
The more I read about the incredible work of nurses across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, the more proud I am than ever before to be a nurse. Here are a few of the specific reasons why.
Nurses show their support for the community
The nursing profession has always been strong in numbers in the fight for safe staffing ratios and patient care. But what is most impressive during this global pandemic is how nurses are rising in support of one another and their communities.
"We are working day and night to protect you and our community. Please stay home for us," stated Christy Jeong, alongside a photo of her UCLA Medical Center ER staff on Facebook. Healthcare professionals around the country have shared similar social media messages.
Nurses fight to protect themselves and each other
News has spread across the country that nurses are being disciplined or fired for not being allowed to wear an N95 mask when treating COVID-19 patients, even though thousands have been infected while not having the proper PPE. But you can't mess with nurses and not expect some push back. Some nurses have protested in droves to let their states know that hospitals aren't protecting them adequately.
National Nurses United, the largest nurses union in the US, urged the president to utilize the Defense Production Act to ramp up PPE manufacturing to fund mass production of necessary gear in the next stimulus package.
Many nurses protested in Washington D.C., demanding the administration take action to acquire more personal protective equipment (PPE), saying aloud the names of 50 nurses who have died of COVID-19.
"NNU union nurses are outside the White House to honor the courageous RNs who have lost their lives on the frontlines of the #COVID19 crisis, and to demand protections for the living," said Bonnie Castillo, director of NNU during the event.
Nurses use humor to maintain resiliency
One nurse and her co-worker found a humorous and creative way to show that they needed more PPE with an original Tik-Tok video on Instagram.
"This is a video my coworkers and I made BEFORE coronavirus completely took over. (No PPE was wasted in the making of this video!) Never would have thought we’d be going through a pandemic, but here we are. Thank you to all the healthcare workers, first responders and everyone working through this thing! We’re all in this together.”
Nurses are leaving home and flying all around the country to help
While New York City was being inundated with COVID-19 patients, nurses around the country were signing up to join in the fight, even if it meant that they would be sacrificing weeks or months away from their own families.
One example of this Ann Nicoles, a retired nurse from UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Nichols is part of a small battalion of volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse, a faith-based organization giving critical care to coronavirus patients in America’s hardest-hit city.
“We're holding hands with every patient,” Nichols said. “We're praying with and over every patient. I can't tell you how many patients reach out and hold my hand. They're scared.”
Nurses find ways to comfort patients by taping a photo of themselves onto their PPE
Patients admitted to the hospital are not allowed to have visitors during the COVID-19 outbreak. The only human points of connection during their stay are with healthcare staff who are covered with layers of PPE and headgear that obscure their faces. It's no surprise that many patients feel isolated and devoid of real human connection.
So some nurses started wearing photos of themselves smiling to put patients a little more at ease. Nurse Derik Devalt posted a photo of himself and co-workers in head-to-toe PPE with enlarged smiling photos of themselves on Instagram.
"Saw this idea on IG and thought it was a beautiful way to bring ease to our patients during this stressful time. Thank you to all the healthcare workers out there for battling on the frontlines. To all those who are staying home, huge shout out to you! I know that is also not easy."
To the nurses and other healthcare workers on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, here is a huge shout out to you. We know what you are doing for our communities, and we know it's not easy. Thank you for everything you do and for showing the world that there is light during these dark days.
If you or a nurse you know are interested in mental and emotion support resources centered around the current state of nursing and its inherent challenges, you can check out Trusted's Mental Health Resource Center.