I’m presently watching the 60 Minutes special on Ebola, listening to nurses who took care of Thomas Duncan and hearing about their experiences caring for the first patient diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the United States. It’s hitting really close to home.
As a nurse, I have had many friends ask me, “would you take care of the patient if they were in your hospital?” Currently I don’t work in a hospital and am an oncology nurse (always have been), which means that even in the hospital I would have never be faced with this decision. I will (in a hospital environment) work on a floor with immunocompromised patients. Here is the thing, though: I would without hesitation take care of that patient. I am a nurse; caring for patients – for people – is what I do.
I know how Ebola is transmitted. I know the risks. I have had to tell many family members and friends to not freak out. I mean it. Don’t freak out.
I didn’t go into nursing for myself. I went into nursing because I have a passion to help others. I knew going into the field of nursing would mean that at times I would put myself at risk. I listened tonight as nurses from the hospital in Texas spoke and they said that they were not forced to take care of this patient – they volunteered to take care of him. I stand by those nurses with pride.
I’ve met of the most amazing and wonderful people because I’m a nurse – people who are also some of the most selfless and brilliant I know. Nursing friendships are a rare kind, because together we walk through the trenches. Sometimes those trenches are a bed full of diarrhea and a combative patient. Sometimes those trenches are fighting together for a patient who is not getting the care they need. Sometimes those trenches are more about the emotional roller coaster that caring for living breathing people who are straddling the line of life and death together. I’ve sobbed in the arms of other nurses more times than I can count or want remember. I’ve worked in unison like a well oiled machine with many nurses as we manage a patient having a chemo reaction.
Nursing more than a profession, it’s a way of life. Writing RN behind my name is an honor not just because I made it through nursing school and passed the NCLEX, but because that RN means I am a part of a family – a family that is made up of millions of fellow nurses around the world who daily put others before themselves.
Thank you to my nurse family for allowing me the honor of walking alongside you. Thank you for being such wonderful human beings. Thank you for caring. Thank you for teaching me so much about how to be a better nurse and better person. I cannot say enough how truly honored I am to be part of the family of nurses.
And to those nurses taking care of Ebola patients, I salute you. I thank you and I salute you.
**Disclaimer: to any nurses or medical staff who have decided to not take care of a patient with Ebola know that I respect your decision as well and do not think any less of you for it!**