As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has unfolded over the last few weeks, time often feels like it’s slowed to a standstill. The onslaught of news headlines has made it difficult for the general public to discern how worried they should really be, and so the attempts to “flatten the curve” have been uncoordinated thus far. People have rushed to stockpile food, paper goods, and masks, swept up in the flurry of making sure they have “enough”. In the urgency of it all, we’ve forgotten to thank the people at the center of it all: our courageous nurses.
The nursing profession has long been charged with the noble, awe-inspiring, messy, and exhausting work of caring for the sick and suffering. Nurses have the enormous privilege of carrying the burden of preserving human dignity amid uncertainty. Together with their physician colleagues and exceptional care teams, nurses meet and care for people when they’re at their most fragile – bringing hope to what, in some cases, may be the worst day of their lives.
Nurses hold a beautiful contradiction: To be able to walk alongside another person during their moments of vulnerability requires a special type of selflessness and strength. Most days, this profession feels like a calling – it is the most essential, impactful, rewarding type of work. But there’s a reason why healthcare delivery is often referred to in terms of war metaphors. Nurses are “in the trenches” and “on the front lines of care.” They “go into battle” and if they’re lucky, they “emerge unscathed” – but more often not, nurses carry emotional and physical “battle scars”.
I’d like to thank the nurses who run towards the line of danger as the rest of us retreat into the safety of our homes. This was not a battle you signed up for, but it is one for which you’re taking up arms and fighting regardless. You’ve done the mental calculus and against human nature, chosen selflessness over self-preservation – not just today in the war against the invisible enemy that is COVID-19, but every time you step into your scrubs. Thank you for choosing to serve and care for those that might be afflicted with the virus, even though the mere act of caring for them may put yourself and your loved ones at risk. During this unprecedented period of time marked with angst and anxiety – what a few have referred to as our generation’s “World War” – thank you for being the helpers and heroes we look to. It is never easy work, and few will understand why we do it – but we charge on, ready to fight another day.
In awe and gratitude,
A fellow nurse