Today you are my children
The majority of the nurses caring for COVID-19 patients on general medical surgical units are young, like in their 20s young. Most have only been out of school for a few years or months and some are just starting their careers during this crisis. Most don’t have years of experience behind them to guide them through the challenging clinical aspects or a lot of life experience for that matter to help them cope with the emotional challenges that come with caring for patients on designated COVID-19 units. They are scared! On a typical day under normal circumstances, my role is to be the clinical leader and guide them but I find myself now as the protector and support to the nurses. When I look into their faces the only visible feature is their eyes looking back at me from behind the head covers, masks, and eye protection. Some say the eyes are the mirror of the soul, if that is the case, these souls are hurting. What you see is fear exhaustion, frustration, and worry. As the days, weeks, and months go by it gets more difficult to look into those eyes without getting emotional. I find myself fighting back my own tears when I look at them. I worry for them as if they were my own. I see my own children in their eyes, they are my children, they are your children, and they are our children. They are isolated when they are not at work due to the restrictions and out of fear of unintentionally getting others sick. They are unable to find comfort, solace, and healing form the people closest to them, their parents, grandparents, and loved ones. I hope that their families know that we are looking out for them right now, watching over them, protecting them and doing our best to provide support and comfort. Today they are my children.
Thanks for joining our conversation and sharing your moving experience. What do you think will be long-term impact of this on that young generation of nurses? Will they become more resilient? Leave the profession? Is there something that could/should be done to help ensure they stay in the profession once this crisis has passed?
Hi Kym, This is a really moving post and brings up an important issue. Treating covid is so physically demanding that I can see why managers pull in young nurses, but you are right that this is no way to introduce new nurses to the job and really is unfair to them. it is good to know you are there to look out for them. But what about all the other new nurses who don't have a "Kym" looking out for them? Take care!
Kym, thanks for these words. They are moving and meaningful and so affirming. Be sure to care for yourself -- and thank you for caring for your "children."