When I first started out as a Registered Nurse, it was the mid 1980’s and HIV/AIDS was a “novel” disease that was taking the lives of beautiful humans at the most alarming rate. We were scrambling to save lives and I saw things that frankly I wish I never had as a young woman in her twenties. There was no such thing as universal precautions (that was a result of the AIDS crisis). We didn’t understand it and there were no definitive treatments, so it was a pretty tricky time to be a healthcare provider. I lay this down in context because throughout history, healthcare providers (I’ll focus on nurses), have always risen to the occasion.
From the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, who cured soldiers simply by implementing sanitation measures in the war hospital and surrounding sewers to Nurse soldiers in the World Wars, to modern nurses on the forefront of academics, critical care, research and of course the frontlines. Nurses have always been there taking care of patients selflessly and bravely: placing themselves in harms way to care for their patient.
So here is where I take myself out of the equation. I had my day on the frontlines. I loved the adrenaline rush when I worked critical care and the cardiac cath lab. I ran towards the chaos and loved every minute of it. Now it’s 30 years later and I treat wrinkles instead of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, I use chemical peels instead of chemotherapy, and I worry about filler injection bruises instead of bronchitis. I am sitting in the comfort of my home witnessing what I consider extreme heroism of my fellow nurses. They are reporting for duty, 12 hours shifts, day after day, caring for patients with a “novel” disease we know so little about, for which there is no vaccine and it’s just the beginning of experimental treatments because there is so little known about this awful virus. It’s unfolding at warp speed that no one was prepared for. My nursing colleagues are potentially not protected from harm themselves yet they still cross the threshold of the hospital to care for patients each day and frankly I also understand if they decide they mustn’t.
It is the nurse that is constantly by the bedside caring for the patient with this scary disease that may in fact make him or her the next victim. He or she is worried she may bring it home to her family so she changes outside, sleeps in another room and wipes her entire house down with disinfectant twice a day. It is the nurse at the bedside of those afflicted, dying without family nearby. The nurse is the one to hold their hand when the patient succumbs to this nasty disease. The sacrifices are many, the physical work is exhausting, and the emotional toll is daunting. I am in awe.
During this ongoing pandemic, we have seen pictures of nurses who look so brave, and we have also seen those who have broken down from the strain. But, overall, I think society may be seeing them for the first time with fresh, admiring eyes as the silent heroes they have always been...
We started 2020 celebrating The Year of The Nurse and the timing of this declaration couldn’t be more relevant! People are stepping up and showering praise and adulation on nurses. Companies are showing their appreciation with pizzas and perfume, and tributes and testimonials highlighting their dedication and bravery. Firemen and police officers, heroes themselves, line the streets of New York, thanking healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s truly a remarkable time to be a nurse! Those on the frontlines are so deserving of the high praise and accolades. It’s not nearly enough, nor is this nightmare remotely over, but I’m so proud to be a member of this caring profession.
As the NP/RN co-founder of THE ROUTE, a “nurse powered brand”, it’s always been in our DNA to recognize the contributions of nurses. We want to continue to acknowledge the contributions of the 3 million Registered Nurses in the US and right now we want to highlight as many of their stories from the frontlines as we can. We admire you from afar, we thank you for taking care of our loved ones and strangers alike and we love, love, love you!!
Here are just a few of the Nurse heros we’ve recognized on the frontline of this pandemic.
Kori Ann Johnston, BSN RN CCRN
ICU Nurse, Saint Joseph Hospital
Carina Em, Behavioral Health Tech
Susan Tiso, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANO
Director of DNP and FNP program, Clinical Professor UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing
Amy Scarlet, RN
Help us spread more of hero stories by sharing a nurse you want to recognize.
xoxo Nurse Nancy
1000 agree we couldn’t do without these brave heroes!