Giving and caring for others are cornerstones of the nursing profession. Nurses give time, empathy, care, compassion, and energy to their patients whilst practicing admirable patience and maintaining incredible composure. All that they do are reasons why it comes as no surprise that nursing is one of the most taxing professions. Though there is no ideal time to show appreciation for nurses, Village Health is especially proud to express our inexplicable gratitude for our nurses.

There are many challenges that come with being a nurse. They are expected to handle multiple demanding situations at once, often undergoing tremendous amounts of stress. Israel Olguín, an ER staffing nurse at The Heights Hospital, says that the biggest challenge they face is burnout. Beginning their career as a nurse during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Olguín experienced burnout like many others. “I knew it was burnout because I started dreading going to work. I started to question if I made the right career decision,” Olguín says.

In-Patient nurse, Timetra Brown, says that it’s the constant changes that she struggles with. “Nurses are expected to be able to hit the ground running and be versatile in situations with no specific structure and that’s a hard thing for anyone to do,” she says.

With such a taxing profession like nursing, emotional labor will inevitably take its toll. A survey administered by the American Nurses Foundation, wherein more than 9,500 nurses participated, found that over 34% rated their emotional health as not—or not at all—emotionally healthy. 75% said they felt stressed, 69% were frustrated, and 67% were exhausted. As expected, these feelings were exacerbated by the pandemic when many nurses were being overworked during a vulnerable time in healthcare.

“I was scared, like everyone else, because no one knew what was going on in the beginning,” Brown says about her time working at the start of the coronavirus outbreak. “Also, being away from family was so hard. I would go a week without seeing my son because I was so scared he would catch something from me.”

Despite all the challenges they face and the sacrifices they make, nurses maintain their composure and continue tirelessly with the job.  When asked about what motivates them, Olguín says that it’s the adrenaline rush they get from working in the ER and being able to control that in order to continue providing the best care. Brown shares that it’s seeing the patients’ health improve and knowing that she played a significant role in facilitating that.

Now is perhaps the most important time to show appreciation for nurses to let them know that their hard work and sacrifices for the job are not only recognized but also greatly valued. Reciprocating the care, empathy, and compassion they willingly give to others helps motivate them to overcome the difficulties they face.

Olguín and Brown shared that they felt most appreciated by patients and doctors alike when they’re given genuine thanks—when people take the time to let them know that they are recognized and appreciated for all that they do. The simple act of saying thank you to nurses cannot be underestimated.

Verbally expressing gratitude for them can leave a positive impact on their overall well-being. Constant and genuine appreciation is essential to every nurse’s success. They work day in and day out to provide every patient the best care possible, and it’s only fitting that we give that back to them every chance we get.

 The Heights Hospital thanks Israel Olguín and Timetra Brown for lending us their time to be interviewed. See below to read more about their interviews.

What made you decide to be a nurse?

Israel Olguín: As cliche as it sounds, I wanted to help people. I remember seeing a nurse working when I was little and knew that’s what I wanted to do.

Timetra Brown: I loved seeing how healthcare and caring for people can make a difference. I wanted to be a part of that.

What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career so far?

Olguín: Every patient—every person—is their own little world. Also, always approach people in a non-judgemental manner.

Brown: People just want to be heard. One conversation can change the trajectory of someone’s life. Sometimes, all it takes is just sitting down and listening to them to figure out what it is I can do to help them.

What do you wish more people knew about what you do?

Olguín:The biggest part of it is prioritizing. You have to be able to figure out who could die first and delegating yourself accordingly. That can be hard to do especially when you have to be in three places at once and all the patients you’re taking care of are completely different from each other. 

Brown: It is not about the money. Nursing is hard and it can be very hard to push through at times. You have to be in it for the right reasons to be able to push through, and when you do, it is so rewarding in the end.

What are some things you do to take care of yourself?

Olguín: I never work overtime. After my first year, I learned never to take overtime. When I’m off, I’m off. I had to learn to recognize when I’ve done all that I can and leave it at that.

Brown: I make sure I have my hobbies so that I always have something to do. Instead of picking up shifts, I distance myself from work by reading, focusing on school, or make an effort to actually be outside.

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