We have all received the memo. With every scroll down our Instagram and perusing of our Facebook feeds we have been reminded that nurses are superheroes disguised in scrubs. In the streets of New York City, we have watched our valiant colleagues walk through police tunnels of praise and receive a nightly cacophony of gratitude as residents ring bells of appreciation for healthcare workers. In the evenings, when we walk our furry friends through our familiar neighborhoods, our exceptional sacrifice is validated by signs of encouragement and thankfulness. As a nurse, I am grateful for the support. I can tell those outside of the profession that we recognize your fear, your needing of us more than ever, and your appreciation. I can also tell you, that many, if not most of us, are scared too.
As nurses, we have spent countless hours at the bedside, caring for those in some of their most trying times. We have held space for our patients when they needed it most and, in some capacity, we signed up for this. No one has ever said that being a nurse is easy and if they have, they do not know any nurses. So, when the pandemic took hold in the world and citizens were asked to remain at home, nurses got in their cars. On our way to work, our hands steady on the steering wheel, we stoically walked into what everyone else in the world was fleeing.
They say, “nurses are superheroes.” I, along with many other nurses that I have spoken to, feel conflicted with this notion. What is our superpower? That we have taken an oath to uphold our code of ethics? That we as nurses truly believe this is our duty, and that we willingly and bravely do our jobs because we know that without us, there will be greater suffering? However, unlike Wonder Woman’s superhuman strength and durability, we are mere mortals. Against this villainous virus, we have just as much kryptonite as everyone else.
National Nurses Week 2020 commences on May 6th. Annually, this week of appreciation is usually celebrated with a gift and recognition from our employers. It is generally a seven-day period where we as nurses, have an opportunity to take a breath and acknowledge the truly challenging, important, and exhausting work that we do. 2020, however, is like no other before and hopefully will be like no other again. This is a year that will be remembered in the history books of nursing as one that altered the field forever. Nurses have always shown courage during chaos, strength during sickness, and love during it all. Yet in the year of 2020, nurses have also been asked to be something we did not sign-up for… superheroes. The truth of it is that none of the clever memes, signs in yards, or even the Blue Angels can truly protect us. We can act in the capacity of superheroes, and we can also feel afraid and vulnerable. So, for Nurses Week in 2020, if you are a nurse, I hope you can take a breath, give yourself some compassion, and know that this is a really difficult time and it is okay to be afraid. It is okay to not want to go to work. It is okay to wish you were not essential. If you are not a nurse, know that your support, encouragement, and kindness is appreciated. We see your fear. We see your kryptonite. We are all in this together.
For my nurse colleagues at Healing Care Hospice, you may not have superpowers, but you are super people. Witnessing the courage, strength, and grit that everyone has shown during this unthinkable time has been inspiring. Thank you all, stay safe and much love.