Nurses are unique individuals; I know because I am one. As I reflect on the global condition and consider the millions of nurses involved in the care of others, I am struck by the bravery, knowledge, skills, and ability of my colleagues that care directly for patients and residents daily.
The curriculum for nursing offers a framework of theory, science, human psychology, and practical skills. This training has provided me an abundance of lifetime skills. My clinical background allowed me to care for emergency department patients, medical and surgical patients, and to lead many clinical departments. This included one very unique intensive care unit (ICU) where the most complex trauma and surgical patients were cared for. Looking back on more than a decade of my career in this ICU and in the emergency department, I am awed by the learning that I garnered during those years.
During crises or emergent situations, I learned that my decision-making process must remain factually-based and my emotional responses had to be suppressed. There obviously is a time and place for human emotion but in a period of crisis, the confidence and directed action of the nurse is critical. Nurses are taught to act on the rigorous process and critical thinking skills that become second nature in practice.
I learned a great deal from the clinical experts in that ICU. Those memories have formed my ideal image of nursing and the passion and excellence of care delivery. It is a memory that I remember endearingly. Patients arriving to the ICU would come directly from the operating room following hours of life-saving surgeries, and often with more IV lines than an individual nurse could count. These nurses always started their review of the patient from head to toe—a rigorous, consistent, and detailed process of assessment and interpretation. All IV lines were traced to the origin of the line and labeled one by one, starting with the most toxic of the intravenous drips. The sheets of the beds that these patients laid on were taut, without a single wrinkle. Patients were turned routinely, provided back rubs and foot massages when appropriate, and they quickly became part of that unit’s family.
These nurses modeled expert clinical and emotional care for every patient in their midst and expected the same from the many excellent physicians who serviced patients there.
It is amazing how the rigor of professional training – when witnessed over and over – becomes inbred in your ethos and spirit. In pictures and news clips of nurses these past several weeks, I notice the looks on their faces. I think about how they must be frightened for their own lives and families. But these nurses, through their attentiveness and training, push aside these feelings to provide quality care for their patients. The routines of care, decision-making, and rigorous assessment take hold and they perform in a caring and sensitive manner.
It is an honor to watch nurses perform. In this – the “Year of the Nurse” – we must celebrate their work and hold them up as heroes in our midst. Thank you for all you do and thank you to all the wonderful nurses who mentored and taught us the skills that are impacting the world today.
Update May 6th, 2020: Kronos has released their #ThankANurse video. Watch it here!