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Nurses on the Front Line

Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member and Chief Nurse Executive at Kronos, Nanne Finis. Nanne has spent forty years in the healthcare industry focused on the profession of nursing and patient care delivery. Here she reflects on the bravery, knowledge and skills of nurses on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nurses are unique individuals; I know because I am one.  As I reflect on the global condition and consider the millions of nurses involved in the care of others I am struck by the bravery, knowledge, skills, and ability of my colleagues that care directly for patients and residents daily.

The curriculum for nursing offers a framework of theory, science, human psychology, and practical skills. This training has provided me an abundance of lifetime skills. My clinical background offered me the opportunity to care for emergency department patients, medical and surgical patients, and to lead many clinical departments including one unique intensive care unit - a Surgical ICU where the most complex trauma and surgical patients were cared for. When I consider over a decade of my career in this ICU and in the Emergency Department, I am awed by the learning that I garnered during those years.

During crises or emergent situations, I learned that my decision-making process must remain factually based and my emotional responses had to be suppressed. There obviously is a time and place for human emotion but in a period of crisis the confidence and directed action of the nurse is critical for all. Nurses are taught to act on the rigorous process and critical thinking skills that becomes second nature in practice. 

I learned a great deal from the clinical experts in that ICU. Those memories have formed my ideal image of nursing and the passion and excellence of care delivery. It is a memory that I remember endearingly. Patients arriving to the ICU would come directly from the operating room following hours of life saving surgeries and often with more IV lines than an individual nurse could count. These nurses always started their review of the patient from head to toe–a rigorous, consistent and detailed process of assessment and interpretation. All IV lines were traced to the origin of the line and labeled one by one starting with the most toxic of the intravenous drips. The sheets of the beds that these patients lay on were taut, without one wrinkle. Patients were turned routinely, provided back rubs and foot massages when appropriate, and they quickly became part of that unit's family. These nurses modeled expert clinical and emotional care for every patient in their midst and expected the same from the many excellent physicians who serviced patient there.

It is amazing how the rigor of professional training when witnessed over and over becomes inbred in your ethos and spirit. In pictures and news clips of nurses these past several weeks, I notice the faces of the many nurses. They must be frightened for their own lives and families, but their full attention is on the patient before them. The routines of care, decision making, and rigorous assessment take hold and they perform in a caring and sensitive manner.

It is an honor to watch nurses perform. In this year of the nurse, we must honor their work and hold them up as heroes in our midst. Thank you for all you do and thank you to all the wonderful nurses who mentored and taught us the skills that today are impacting the world.

This post was previously featured on the Kronos Industry Insights Blog.

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