The Kindness of Others… and by Others, I Mean Nurses

Life is hard; sometimes it can become very overwhelming, and can lead one to a feeling of indifference towards others. We focus so much on our own “stuff”, that we can’t see past it, to recognize when others may be struggling as well. Even those closest to us may not know the many burdens that we carry, because we hide it well, and often suffer in silence. 

This past year in particular, was relentless with tremendous loss, isolation, fear, and anxiety. It was the “perfect storm” for those who usually seek relief from stress by socializing with friends and family. Many of us lost that. I lost that.

We lost hugs. I am a “hugger” and I really missed hugging my friends! We even lost our smiles; they had to be hidden by a facemask at all times to protect us from a deadly virus. But smiles are so important to connect with others! We had to rely on our eyes to communicate our feelings, and that is not always easy to do. And we made mad dashes to the grocery store, dripping in hand sanitizer, hoping that no one around us dare clear their throat with a cough. (God forbid)!

But this is where I start bragging about Nurses. It’s Nurse’s Week, and this year we all deserve a damn vacation! We went to work every day to take care of our patients, just like always, as if there wasn’t a global pandemic that kept many others home from work or school. Our “business” never closed its doors. 

According to Psychology Today (2021), altruism is helping others at some cost to ourselves. It is showing empathy, and purposefully acting in a selfless way to help others. Nurses are the definition of altruistic! During this pandemic, nurses gowned up Every. Single. Day. They wore restrictive and uncomfortable PPE for 13+ hours until their faces were bruised. They washed their hands and uniforms as if hoping they could be sterilized, so as not to pass the virus onto ourselves, or others. Nurses kicked ass this past year, but there was a high cost to be paid. Too many lost their lives in this battle, and on this week of celebrating nurses, please take a moment to remember them, and their families, in our prayers. They were brave and kind and altruistic… and they paid the ultimate sacrifice in this Covid war.

Please take care of yourselves this week, you deserve it! Thank you for your kindness, love, and friendship; thank you for being you!

Happy Nurse’s Week!

Reference:Psychology Today. (2021).  Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com

Celebrating Nurses

Every year around this time I receive a “Happy Nurse’s Day” card from my parents…today, my card came from my Mom; she always remembers. She reminded me how proud she is, and how proud my Dad was, of me being a nurse. The loss of my Dad always sneaks up on me. It is that constant flow of support and love that has been the driving force throughout my career, and completion of my Master’s degree. The journey that I have been on has not always been smooth sailing; there have been more than a few bumps and sharp turns (and U-turns) along the way, which have led me to where I am today…which is mostly a good place.

Nursing has been the one constant in my life. This amazing profession has helped me to grow in my career and overcome many challenges. It allowed me to support my daughter as a single parent, buy a home, and basically make “ends meet”. We are not paid nearly enough for the work that we do, but we get by.

I have worked with amazing nurses in my long career and they will always be my forever friends; the “job” connects and bonds you in a way that most other professions do not. We share similar stories, frustrations, heartbreaks, and challenges. Nursing is hard work and often we do not get recognized for having sharp instincts, endless patience, strength, and resilience…all with the sole purpose of keeping our patients alive!

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Nursing Supervisors    

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As a nurse leader, it can be challenging to perform your role while walking the line between Nursing and Administration; the rules change. We are held accountable to strictly adhere to staffing guidelines, ensure patient and staff safety, consider patient acuity with staffing that is balanced with expert, competent, and novice nurses so that those with more experience can teach and develop new grads. In most hosptials, there is an abundance of upper management/leadership support and resources for patients and staff during the weekdays; on the off-shifts (eves and nights), weekends, and holidays, the responsibility of “steering the boat” changes from “many” to “one”; this singular, fearless leader is the Nursing Supervisor, who has to make difficult decisions and know when, and who, to call for help. They are called to respond to patient/family complaints/concerns, patient and non-patient emergencies, and occasionally discipline/coach staff… all while knowing that some of the choices you have to make may not be popular or well-received. I try to make the best decisions that I can, with the information that I have at the time. I am imperfect. I have made mistakes. I have miscommunicated via email, and I may have been too busy to remember to count to 10, and think before I speak during a particularly stressful moment. I am acutely aware that during every shift, I have a ton of responsibility to many: patients, families, staff, colleagues, and administration. Not everyone can appreciate that perspective…some can only see what is happening in their own area, and not the other things that may be going on in the rest of the hospital that can sometimes take precedence. We only know what we know.

Several years ago I worked with a really strong and brilliant Nursing Supervisor, Jackie; she did not mess around….she knew everything that was happening in the entire (very large) hospital, even if she wasn’t covering those areas. She could work the staffing numbers like a mathematician, and quickly move people where they needed to be to balance the numbers. In a crisis, she was calm, cool, and collected. She taught me a lot and never gave up on me, even when I made the decision to return to staffing and not stay in that role; I just wasn’t ready at the time.

We all have our own leadership styles, but the most important thing is that we lead with authenticity; we do the best that we can, practice the values of the organization, develop trust, and show compassion for others.

Happy Nurse’s Week! Enjoy the recognition from your family, friends, colleagues, and the organizations in which you work. You have earned it! It is the best job in the world!

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