March 21, 2020

I’m a Nurse and These Are 5 Reasons Why I’ve Been Ready For COVID-19 My Entire Career

Nurse with protective gear holding positive covid-19 blood vial

By Emily Brant

I can say with confidence that the people most prepared to tackle COVID-19 are your neighborly nurses. While I agree that the virus is extremely dangerous; it's important to remember that we are exposed to germs of equal contractility every shift we work. COVID -19 is just one more to add to the list.

With as much emphasis as I can utter the words “I truly wish that no one in this world had to suffer physical pain or harm,” I can say with equal enthusiasm “if they are, I want to be someone to help them through it.” 

This is, in essence, what makes a nurse and these are the reasons why I’m highly educated, trained and prepared for COVID-19. 

1. We Have Always Been On The Frontlines Of Contagious Disease

We are on the front lines, but this isn’t new. We as nurses are fighting a battle every single day, but most of the public has absolutely no idea. I have been a travel nurse for the past four years and worked in hospitals across the country, nurses are highly educated and extremely prepared to treat cases of COVID-19.  

2. Not Much Has Changed About Our Job

Nurses are united across the globe with one communal goal of eradicating diseases, alleviating people’s sufferings, and advocating for holistic health. With the current global crisis, nurses have stealthily crept our way from the ticker tapes, to the subheadings, and all the way up to cover stories in news across the globe.

But the reality is that absolutely nothing about our job has changed. We continue to show up each day and potentially put our own health at risk in order to help someone in greater need. 

Some new procedures have been implemented in the past week, such as, 

  • Having separate entrances for employees
  • Allowing patients to have only one visitor
  • Requiring nurses caring for rule-out COVID patients to be double-checked when donning and doffing gear
  • Receive mandatory training on the proper safety measures that the CDC recommends

3. Nurses Do So Much You Don’t See & We’ve Seen Worse

  • Nurses are the ones that grab the lifeless child from the parent’s hands and run them back to a resuscitation bay. They cough in our faces, wipe snot on our scrubs, and scratch at our skin while they gasp for what little air they can manage to breathe while we work on preparing for intubation. It’s not until ten minutes later that the parents inform us the child has not been immunized and the entire staff could have just been exposed to a potentially dangerous disease.
  • Nurses are the ones that will clean up the dried fecal matter that has run all the way down and filled the patient’s shoes because no one else in their family would help them. We wear isolation gowns, gloves, masks, and shields, but there is never a 100% chance that everyone that has entered that room has taken proper precautions. 
  • Nurses are the ones that perform life-saving measures with rubber gloves in the Hazmat showers protecting themselves from the off-gassing that can occur after exposure to dangerous chemicals. We are covered in booties, suits, masks, hoods, and have the dexterity of a toddler trying to play Operation. Beads of sweat run down our faces, we begin to feel claustrophobic after wearing the respirators, and inevitably we always have to pee and have an itch in an unreachable place.
  • Nurses are the ones that are called into a patient’s room to help grandma get to the bathroom. On getting her vertical, sweet little Gam Gam insists on holding onto your arms, your shoulders, your neck, kicking her leg into your stomach, and then full-on body hugs you in her less than laundered attire. She then coughs in your face and proceeds to miss the toilet completely which results in urine sliding through the crevasses in your Danskos. 
  • Nurses are the ones that bring the homeless man a sandwich, then sit and entertain his delusions about “a monkey that lived on Mars telling him that he needed to never eat meat again or else he would spend eternity in a UFO.” Only after hearing this story and proceeding to de-escalate his manic behaviors for nearly an hour do they discover that he is covered in bedbugs and lice. 

Every shift that we walk through the doors of the hospital we put ourselves at risk in order to serve. Just as the general public places themselves at risk anytime they enter their cars or get on any form of public transportation, life, in general, is a risk. But this media-fueled panic has caused a far more widespread than the virus itself.

4. We Are Exposed To Deadly & Highly Contagious Viruses All The Time

I am not dismissing the severity of the contamination rate nor the mortality rate of COVID-19. The point I want to scream at people across this world is that nothing has changed. Germs continue to remain at our fingertips every waking moment of every day. Nurses are constantly exposed to these germs.

5. We Are Used To Stepping Up To The Enemy - Viruses, Cancer, Diseases, Trauma.

So, although the current global pandemic has now caused millions of people to draw back and hideaway, nurses continue to step forward toward the enemy line because it’s what we do every shift. It’s bred into us. It’s what we have been doing in battles for decades past and what we will continue to do.

If the bedbugs haven’t scared us off yet, rest self-assured that nurses are prepared to care for anyone sick or exposed to COVID-19. 

Stay home. Wash your hands often. Change your clothes. Love your people hard.

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