More than Heroes, Nurses!

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Anna Ortigara

Anna Ortigara, RN, MS, FAAN
Workforce Innovations Consultant, PHI

Many of the nurses reading this have strived to create person-directed cultures in their care settings over many days and challenging times. As you continue at this most difficult of times, the Pioneer Network Values, To know each person and respond to the spirit as well as the mind and body have been words that informed and guided us. And in our hearts, we understand the driving human need for relationship, and that relationship is the fundamental building block of a transformed culture. The Pioneer Network Values and Principles have served to help us to operationalize the values we came into nursing to live out.

The Pioneer Network Values are a guiding light but today that light may feel dimmer. As nurses, we are driven to keep people safe, often behind doors or at least behind masks.  And this is hard. The Pioneer Value, Risk taking is a normal part of life, has taken a backseat to putting “safety first.” As it needs to be. But as a nurse working each day for the safety and well-being of Elders, team members, their families and our families, this is very hard!

So, on National Nurses Day, how do you continue to live your values when you are exhausted, anxious, frustrated, sad, angry…?

I have a few thoughts to offer about the roles you are living out through these demanding days.

Try to come into each day with intention and awareness. Reflect on, as you enter your setting of care: What are my values? What do I want to accomplish in my work today? This consciousness grounds and clarifies our daily work as you practice as person-centered role models, gerontological nurses, leaders and care team builders.     

Person-centered Role Model

Your attention to each Elder behind the closed door, critically thinking about their well-being, and honoring what you know about them, their priorities and concerns, demonstrates your values. It guides the action of all team members as they work so hard to maintain their person-centered work.

Gerontological Nurses

More than ever, your clinical knowledge and experience is critical. In the time of COVID-19 it may be hard to remain focused on the health needs beyond the virus. As gerontological nurses we have been the champions of maintaining the highest status and emotional well-being for each Elder. We know this is just as important as disease management. Supporting the highest health and well-being at this time is the embodiment of a gerontological nurse.

Leader and Care Team Builders

Perhaps the most important roles are the support and strength you bring as a leader and care team builder. Fear is visceral as staff come through the door each day. You continually push through the fear and see the beauty of each staff member doing their best. Remember, our best will not be the same each day. When we are worn and struggling, we must still recognize our best for what it is, miraculous! Your validation of the best in each team member generates more strength right back at you.

So, on this day to celebrate nurses, I honor each of you while sending a prayer for hope and light in getting to a place of wellness and well-being. There is so much talk of health care staff being heroes, but you are more than heroes. You are Nurses!

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.   —Anne Lamott

7 comments on “More than Heroes, Nurses!

  1. donna k. woodward on

    A beautiful tribute to people who deserve it so much, Anna. (Also CNAs, who do so much of the healthcare grunt work at criminally-low wages and often under dangerous work conditions, even in normal times.) If only we could come out of this with a changed outlook on who deserves public recognition, appropriate financial compensation–and our unfailing respect.

  2. Ann Werner on

    Honest, hopeful and inspiring words that apply to nurses now and as we move forward.
    Being a nurse carries such responsibility but is overshadowed by the rewards that we receive from our patients!
    Thanks you for reminding us of this!

    • Anna Ortigara on

      Ann, Thank you for your years of nursing in service to our veterans. It has been a career of real impact.

  3. Amanda Weiler on

    This is wonderful. It truly says what we are all experiencing and trying to convey to the teams we work with. Thank you!

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