Here at BALA, our core commitment is to make nurses feel like the most respected professionals in the world. Amidst the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and parallel nurse burnout epidemic, this commitment feels more important than ever. That's why we reached out to nurses and nurse advocates in our community to find out how we can best support the professionals who support us, every single day. Here, we've compiled their insights so that you can join us in our pursuit.
The best way to take care of the nurses in your life during the COVID-19 pandemic? Several nurses in our community say it's something you may already be doing: wearing a mask and getting vaccinated. In the words of a wound care nurse practitioner from Minnesota, "Above all else, though, to globally thank nurses and all health professionals, get vaccinated. I think a great deal of the burnout happening is because it looked like there was an end in sight and now that’s disappearing. I want to know that going to work won’t always mean me risking my children's and my own health. For now, that isn’t the case, but if we had more people vaccinated it could have been."
Looking after the house and kids is a job all its own! Take the extra burden of responsibility off a nurse's shoulders by working that second job for them. Per our Minnesota nurse, "If you personally know a nurse, offer to make a meal, walk their dog, pick up groceries– anything to make that nurse's life a little easier." And if you don't have the time to help out yourself, consider helping to arrange for a babysitter or a cleaner to stop by during a week of long shifts and little relief.
Ask your nurse friends if you can help them to unplug on days off by arranging something out of the ordinary–– like a spa day, a home-cooked meal, or a hike away from the noise.
The little things matter: Jana Bitton, director of the Oregon Center for Nursing, explains that many nurses are rarely asked how they're doing, or how they're coping. Christine Diltz RN, founder of NurseRx, echoes the sentiment, urging community members to "start that conversation, and stop looking at nurses as heroes, but as humans." She adds, "I'm sure my neighbors cringe every time I get out of my car, but they always ask, 'How was it at the hospital?' And I'm like, 'Do you really want to know?' But they sit there and they listen, and maybe they go and tell their friends about it, and maybe that will have a domino effect…"
Lastly, a gesture anyone can make. A trauma med-surg nurse from Boston puts it simply: "A thank you goes a long way." Bitton elaborates: "If you see anyone with an RN tag, if you know anyone who is a nurse, call them and say thank you. They are working incredibly hard and have been for a really long time. They are keeping you healthy, they are keeping you safe. No matter what your political views are, they will keep doing that because they are nurses. And we can support them by thanking them for it every day."