Last year we recognized National Nurses Week at a time when the COVID pandemic had become so critical no nurse felt much like celebrating.
So the World Health Organization extended the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife through 2021. In the US, the American Nurses Association not only joined in the extension but has now published the online storybook “To Be a Nurse.”
“To Be a Nurse,” says the ANA, “Is a collection of stories and photos from nurses around the world. Submitted during the Year of the Nurse, these stories showcase diverse experiences, inspiration, and reflections.”
Calling it a storybook is a little like calling a Van Gogh a painting. To Be a Nurse is a digital experience that merges a series of vignettes into a compelling understanding of what it means to be a nurse.
Text and pictures and video combine to tell stories of achievement, challenge and calling. And stories so moving you know they come straight from the heart.
“I had never had a patient without family, no less one who was going to pass from this earth at any time,” recalls RN Chris Kowal, of a night many years ago when he was only a few years into working the surgical ICU.
“I did what I never thought ICU nurses did… I closed the curtain to the outside unit, sat in bed next to the gentleman, held his hand and then clung to him, alongside his frail body, and told him, ‘It is OK. You are loved, and you have permission to leave when you feel it right.’
“It was only a matter of minutes after I held onto him that I heard the familiar long EKG alarm, and I noticed he was not breathing anymore. I respectfully wished his spirit well, began to cry uncontrollably, and I turned off the EKG and alarms. It was not my first patient to pass away, but it was one I will never forget. No one should have to die alone.”
No one who reads this storybook can come away unmoved. Not every story is as poignant; many show the joy of nursing. All are inspirational.
Jennifer Bonamer tells of wanting to be a pediatric healthcare provider as a child. She grew up to become a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse. But over time she wanted to do more.
“So I decided to go to school to pursue my PhD so that I could create evidence to improve patient care,” she tells us. Today she is a clinical nurse researcher helping clinicians explore opportunities for better patient care “to ensure we are treating the whole person.
“I am so grateful to be a nurse.”