Care and compassion are at the core of nursing. Each of the nurses interviewed for this article said caring for people was their reason for going into the profession. Some knew it as children, some later. I would bet a bottle of Tylenol everyone has had contact with a nurse at least one memorable time in their lives – whether at the doctor’s office, a school, a clinic, a hospital or long-term care facility. Nurses are the hub of the healthcare wheel. They carry out the doctor’s orders and interact, many times in a supervisory capacity, with other nurses and care staff while gathering information and managing therapies for their patients. More than not, a nurse is the reliable contact for worried families and other healthcare providers.
Nurses Week May 6-12
Nurses Week ends on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12. Ms. Nightingale (1820-1910) is recognized for launching modern nursing. We celebrate the nursing profession by recognizing the many ways they assist and save lives across our society. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are roughly 2.6 million nurses in the United States.
No other career choice within the field of healthcare can claim such strength in numbers, both in the United States and Canada. For more than 15 years, Americans have rated nursing as the number one most-trusted profession, says Gallup. In a poll conducted last year, Gallup found that 84% of those surveyed rated the honesty and ethical standards of nurses as “very high” or “high” — above that of doctors, pharmacists and teachers.
COVID-19 and Nursing
At this time, nurses and other healthcare workers are being acknowledged regularly for their dedication and acts of bravery in caring for Covid 19 patients. However, they are the same nurses that care for patients all year round, year to year. While they certainly deserve our support and generosity during this pandemic, lets remember they deserve the same during non-pandemic times. Right now, they are called heroes, how about all the time? As one nurse interviewed said, “I see this as I always have: as my profession.” Another added, “This time right now, during COVID-19, doesn’t make me scared, somehow it excites me. I look forward to going to work daily and helping people the best I know how.”
Nurse Stories: From Clinics to Hospitals to Long-term Care Facilities
At the Chautauqua Center Elaine Rissel, RN and Kelli Ramsey, LPN work assisting patients coming in for appointments. Elaine has been an RN for 25 years. “I enjoy caring for people. It is a profession where you can be blessed to see new life coming into the world and humbled to be a part of life leaving this world. Nurses work far more independently than they ever have.” She stays current by practicing nursing and always learning about new diagnoses, procedures and medications.
Kelli Ramsey entered the profession through the military. She was able to obtain her degree through a Veterans Association program. She attended the BOCES school of nursing in Ashville in the 1990s. She said “My family has many great women that are Nurses or work in the health field. Nursing is a career that challenges you on a daily basis. As I grow in the nursing field, I have learned a lot about who I am. I have learned that I’m stronger than I could ever imagine.” She added, “Nurses have to learn to work together and learn from one another, in this world right now this career field is expanding daily. It is more fast paced than ever before and technical advances have made nursing as a profession advance.”
Aimee Hagerty, the Chief Nursing Officer and V.P. of Administrative Services at UPMC Chautauqua, has been an RN for 26 years. She loves to learn. Her Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) degree is her second Bachelors degree. Her first is in finance followed by an MBA. After she obtained her BSN, she discovered great satisfaction in helping heal her patients and doing what was needed to return them to a good quality of life. She oversees 285 nurses at the hospital. “I’m excited to welcome 16 new graduate nurses in May. Nursing is rigorous and intensive. It takes a lot of knowledge. It is constantly evolving,” she added, “Nurses advocate for their patients. They are on the frontline and use critical thinking throughout their shifts to make sure patients are getting the best care.” Ms. Hegarty cites a Maya Angelou quote often when she addresses graduate nurses and other gatherings: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Nurses are in the business of making us feel better.
Lutheran is one of the many sub-acute/long-term care facilities in our area. Pam Nordin is the Licensed Administrator at Lutheran. She is a 39-year RN and has been at Lutheran 22 years working her way through the ranks. She wanted to be a Nurse since she was a little girl. “It was never a question as to what I would do,” Pam said, “I fell in love with the environment here at Lutheran. It has been exciting to watch long-term care evolve. At one time, it was the perception that our elders went to the nursing home to “stay” until they passed away. Now, our elders come to “live” their lives with their choices being honored and their quality of life at the forefront. They come here to live better, for longer. Nurses at long term care facilities are the eyes and ears for our residents, and advocate for them to ensure they receive the best possible care. We are a family for many of our residents. We also provide short stay, sub-acute care which was previously provided in a hospital.” Ms. Nordin added, “There is a shortage of nurses. The supply does not meet the demand, especially in sub-acute/long-term care because the baby boomer generation is large, and is aging, and will need different levels of care including sub-acute/long term care. I want nurses and future nurses to know that working in this setting (and Lutheran) is enriching and skill building. It is a very rewarding career path.”
Suzanne English came to the nursing profession in her 40s. She worked for Hospice Chautauqua County and started working for Lutheran in September 2019. Last month she was tapped to be the Director of Nursing at Lutheran. She said, “I always wanted to help people. I knew I wanted something challenging when my children went to college, so I did too. Nursing is everywhere and everyday is different. It is very rewarding.” She must be a good role model because two of her children graduated from nursing school and are Registered Nurses.
Florence Nightingale was devoted to advancing the nursing profession. According to www.biography.com, “By the time she was 38 years old, she was homebound and routinely bedridden, and would be so for the remainder of her life. Fiercely determined and dedicated as ever to improving health care and alleviating patients’ suffering, Nightingale continued her work from her bed.” She said, “nursing in an art; and if it is to be made an art, it requires as exclusive a devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work.”
It’s obvious from the conversations had with the nurses interviewed for this article, devotion and hard work are its own rewards, not to mention the smiles and thanks from the patients and their families.
Nekeisha McAddo has been an RN at TRC, The Resource Center, for 4 years. She is a supervisor and is currently studying for her BSN. Asked why she became a nurse she said, “The bottom line is always people, but I also find the medical field challenging and fascinating. I love problem solving and nursing is just that, identifying a problem and developing solutions. When those solutions result in helping people it is so gratifying. I have had so many touching moments in my nursing career both as a DSP and as an RN at TRC. Working in long term care you build relationships with the people you are caring for. You get emotionally invested with each and every person, so their struggles feel like your struggles and their successes mean that much more.” She went on to add, “This is a difficult time for everyone, but the staff here are great and are making the best of it for each other and the individuals. We are all here because we care.
I’d like to say “hug a nurse today”, but you can’t, so instead, “elbow bump a nurse today”.