- Brennan Parmelee Streck, PhD, (C), RN, CNE
I am still working as a Stem Cell Transplant Coordinator while wrapping up my last few weeks of my PhD in Nursing. It has been challenging to generate new workflows/processes and novel problem-solving while our "normal" is disrupted. The hospital I'm working for is doing the best that they can to protect patients and staff.
Every person who enters the hospital gets their temperature taken upon entry. Patients and visitors are screened at the door with COVID-related questions. I feel safe at work, and that's truly a testament to Houston Methodist, I think.
It has been especially difficult to tell our patients with cancer/their families that visitors are not allowed at the bedside while inpatient. We do not know when this policy will be lifted. I believe this policy is absolutely critical, but it does not make the nurses/educators very "popular" among the patients and families preparing for life-altering treatment. It is a difficult time to be a patient or the loved one of a patient with chronic disease. People are scared. I constantly educate, provide therapeutic listening, and help navigate the information from the media. I do this for my patients, but also for my friends and family members.
The balance of work and life is somewhat skewed right now for me and most of my nurse colleagues. At the same time, I've never been prouder to be part of this career and workforce. I (selfishly) think medical/nursing personnel deserve special recognition, applause, and praise year-round! But being recognized as key players during the time of a global crisis is not why we became nurses.
I just finished writing my "graduation" speech for my university. It focused on our humble beginning, when Florence Nightingale provided her many famous "isms" that form the foundation of nursing, today. Reminding myself where we came from gaveme a whole new sense of pride. We won't have a traditional graduation this year.
Instead, it will be web-based and pre-recorded. Like many other students across many professions, I am mourning the loss of one of the biggest moments of my life. I will not get to be "hooded" by my doctoral advisor, nor pose for photos with my comrades. It's sad, but necessary. A trade that is arguably the easiest for us nurses to make. I think I speak for mostly all of us when I say that the safety wellbeing of our communities is far more important than a moment in the spotlight. First, do no harm. Florence would be proud, I think.