As the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, the doctors and nurses of the world stood strong as waves of patients flooded hospitals in many countries. Terrible human suffering, in conjunction with fears of the unknown, impacted people from all corners of the globe.
The late winter and early spring of 2020 were incredibly uncertain times. Patients infected with COVID-19 who experienced severe symptoms were not always able to find an open hospital bed, and those who were lucky enough to be treated often died while in the hospital. For those first few months of the pandemic, all the world could do was wait and watch while its people dropped like flies.
In recent months, things have finally started to look better, and many people have regained a sense of hope. Infection rates in many countries have declined and mortality rates have also decreased. Thanks to the physicians and scientists who worked tirelessly in their labs, we now have efficacious vaccines that have proven to be safe.
Things are certainly looking up, but we are not out of the woods yet.
While victories are celebrated and people begin to feel that a return to normalcy is imminent, nurses still stand firmly committed to treating every last patient who walks through the hospital doors. Nurses make up a large piece of the backbone of modern health care. Without the hard work and support of nurses, physicians would never be able to practice medicine and reliably treat patients.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses have continually shared their stories with the world so that we may gain a greater understanding of how this virus has proven to be completely merciless.
This article will explore some of these stories and provide unique commentary. If you are a front-line nurse and are struggling with your mental health during these difficult times, make sure you seek help. Nurses can need help just like anyone, and while the narrative of the self-sacrificing nurse may seem admirable, it can be damaging to hold yourself to unrealistic standards.
Commitment to Service and Patient Health
Nurses are known for their strong work ethic and dedication to patient health. Throughout this pandemic, nurses have continually shown up for work and chosen to work after extra in order to keep operations afloat.
The following vignettes serve as a small sampling of times during the COVID-19 pandemic in which nurses have gone above and beyond. The following stories are an attempt to celebrate and respect exceptional nurses and share their stories; however, it is important to remember that nurses are still human, and they deserve adequate protection, supplies, rest, and pay for their services along with appreciation.
- One nurse navigator (a professional whose clinical expertise guides patients and their caregivers in making medical decisions) was asked to help out with COVID-19 patient screenings after his regular shifts were over. Although this man could have certainly chosen to go home and relax, he chose to risk infection and help out with his hospital’s operations.
In addition to his screening duties, this nurse also transported PUI patients (patients under investigation) to different areas of the hospital, directly endangering his own health and wellbeing. This dedication to service took place prior to the administration of vaccine doses, which contributed to the dangers in patient contact. When this man was thanked for his dedication to patient health, he simply replied that he was humbled to work on the front lines and was trying to embody what being a nurse truly means.
- One critical care nurse decided that staff morale needed a boost. There was a large influx of COVID patients in her hospital, and doctors and nurses were getting run ragged. There were far too many patients to treat with the supplies and hospital space available.
In order to give her colleagues a much-needed pick-me-up, this nurse posted a message on Nextdoor (a networking site for neighborhoods) to ask for members of the community to write thank you letters to health care heroes. Thanks to the actions of this nurse, many of the doctors and nurses in her area received a much-needed morale boost.
- Another critical care nurse decided to work extra shifts during the pandemic in order to support her hospital and its patients. This nurse, who is a mother of two children, has had a lot going on at home. She lovingly takes care of her two children, and her husband is in the Air Force and had recently returned from Qatar. Amidst all of her family affairs, this nurse carved out the time to help patients in need.
- One neuroscience nurse went above and beyond to help one of her elderly patients. Throughout the pandemic, hospitals have imposed strict patient visitation regulations to prevent viral spread. When one of this nurse’s patients was staying in the hospital, the patient’s wife had requested to visit her husband through the window.
In order to help facilitate the unorthodox visit, this nurse brought the patient to his window so that he could see his wife, who was holding an “I Love You” sign across the street.
- An emergency service manager shows up to work each day with pride, knowing she is making a difference. She is thankful for her family members who keep her household running smoothly during these difficult times. Her parents bring groceries to the house, her daughter cooks and cleans, and her husband makes home repairs, cooks, cleans, and takes care of the bills. Thanks to this nurse’s efforts and the efforts of her family members, she can make a strong contribution to her hospital’s COVID-19 response.
If you are a nurse and have been struggling with your mental health during these difficult times, make sure to seek help. You can try talking with friends, family members, or a significant other about your problems. Sometimes those who are close to you can provide the help needed to successfully manage mental health issues.
If talking with others does not prove effective, try reading self-help articles or reach out to a therapist. In today’s age of modern technology, there is rarely even a need to attend in-office counseling sessions to receive help. Online therapy is safe, effective, and readily available.
Thanks to nurses around the world, we are finally moving in a positive direction as we work to free ourselves from this pandemic. We owe nurses a debt of gratitude and should support them in any way possible.
This article was contributed by Marie Miguel who has been a writer and research expert, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with MyTherapist.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.