What Nurses Need Now to Get Through COVID-19

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Never in our lifetimes have we (healthcare professionals) been challenged to this extent. COVID-19 has turned our worlds upside down.  Now, more than ever, we need something – anything – to help us get through these tough times.  While the rest of the world is shutting down, healthcare teams are ramping up. The good humans on this planet are relying on us to stop the spread of this virus and treat the parents, grandparents, spouses, and children who are infected.

It’s not an easy task.  However, that’s what we do. We care for the sick.

Like firefighters – While others are running out of a burning building, we are running in.

For us to meet this challenge, we’re all going to have to reach down deep and pull out the courage, commitment, and one other characteristic that I believe sets us apart from the rest and will help us get through this tough time – Perserverance.

Perserverance in Practice

In my 28 years as a nurse, I’ve admired, been humbled by, and worked along side some of the most amazing nurses in the world. These nurses not only inspired me to want to be a better nurse but they inspired me to be a better human being. Like Rita Gabriel; who taught me how to be a good cardiac nurse; Joanne Turka who taught me how to be a good educator (Game Master!); Louise Jakubic who taught me how to be a successful nurse business owner; and Pamela Triolo who taught me how to be a leader. All of these nurses shared one similar trait.

They all had perserverance.

Thomas Jefferson described it best when he said “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”  It’s perserverance that allows you to keep going long after others have thrown in the towel.

Without perseverance, none of us could “run into the burning building” day after day.

Perserverance and Grit!

In her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth shares her extensive research demonstrating the power of persistence and passion, in other words – GRIT. I first learned about her research on this topic when I watched her TED talk. She studied the debate between natural talent and I.Q. versus practice and plain hard work. Her research is fascinating and actually, makes me feel a bit better about the fact that I wasn’t born with certain talents but with passion and perseverance, I can achieve almost anything I want. So can we and so can you!

She explains that grit is very SIMILAR to resilience but not quite the same. Resilience is the ability to spring or bounce back from adversity (we will need that after this crisis is over). However, grit is all about the perseverance you need to do what needs to be done now– no matter what. It’s getting up at 4:30 am to come into work when you just got home at 10:00 pm the night before.

Nursing isn’t easy. We have days when we leave work feeling really good about the work we’ve done. And then we have those OTHER days, weeks, (hopefully not months) when we leave work questioning our decision to become a nurse in the first place. “What was I thinking?” It’s on THOSE days that nurses with perserverance are able to rise above the muck and come back the next day to do it all over again.. 

This is where perseverance comes in.

Is nursing a job or a calling?

One parable Duckworth shared in her book Grit made me immediately think of the nursing profession and why some of us struggle with “those” nurses who aren’t in it for the right reasons – who don’t have the perserverance it takes to keep moving forward.

The Bricklayers

Three bricklayers are asked, “What are you doing?”

The first says, “I am laying bricks.”

The second says, “I am building a church.”

The third says, “I am building a house of God.”

The first has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling.

What is nursing to you? Job, career, or calling. If nursing is a calling, you have perserverance.

Only perseverance can ward off self doubt and giving up by helping us remember our ultimate goal, which gives us the strength and resolve to push past any difficulties, any crisis, and focus on what really matters. It reminds us why our work is important. Perseverance is all about committing to  “building a house of God”..not “laying bricks.”

We are living in unprecedented times right now with a lot of uncertainty and fear. The burden placed upon our shoulders is a heavy one to bear. However, we can do this! I believe in the collective power, intelligence, and perseverance of the scientists, physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, support staff, administrators, etc. who are working around the clock to stop the spread of this virus, treat the people who have been infected, and return our world back to – not where it was – return us to a better world.

Sending you all love, prayers, and air hugs!

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