For one week every year, beginning May 6 and ending May 12 on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, nurses across the country, and their positive impact on the healthcare system, are recognized and celebrated. Here at Hospital IQ, we are honored to have many dedicated, devoted nurses on our team. That’s why to kick of National Nurses Week we had our VP of Client Operations and CNO, Shawn Sefton, and Clinical Product Specialist, Nicole Nemeth, reflect on their nursing career and the special characteristics of the people who become nurses.

I think I might have been almost destined to become a nurse. I had spent a quite a bit of time in the hospital when I was younger, and that piqued my interest in nursing. And then in college, I changed my studies from Psychology and Social Work to Nursing because I liked helping people, as well as the scientific aspect. Seeing something that was broken and helping to fix it was really enticing to me. 

When my nursing career began, I brought my positive energy to the bedside, which really helped my patients. I worked in the post-op open heart unit, and as you can imagine, the patients there were extremely sick, stressed and worried about what their future would be. Being a good listener and motivator, I could relate to them and motivate them, helping to ease their fears and those of their family members. I really enjoyed that aspect of it. 

I have so many fond memories of my patients, remembering how relieved they would be at discharge when they finally got to go home. They were postop cardiothoracic surgical patients who either had serious heart disease or cancer and oftentimes were unsure of whether or not they would leave the hospital in a better state. Often, many would come back for a visit or write a letter to say thank you or show you how well they’re doing. Knowing you contributed to that and helped make a difference is an amazing feeling. Conversely, I have stayed by the side of those who passed when family members were not there, and that too brings a sense of joy in knowing they were not alone. 

Thinking about the nurses out there during National Nurses Week, especially this year with the COVID-19 pandemic going on, I’d say most any caregiver, but particularly nurses, are selfless people, very empathetic, really willing to jump in no matter the circumstances. They push their fears, feelings, and personal safety aside to do the job that needs to be done.  

Nursing is such a difficult career. It’s physically and mentally draining to work often over 60 hours a week in a high-acuity setting, especially when you have a family waiting for you at home. Nursing staffing has always been cyclical, so there’s no surprise that we have a nursing shortage now considering these factors, and that the job itself is still getting harder.  

It does take a special kind of person to become a nurse, and my advice for anybody considering this important profession is to always put patients first. Always. Be the patient advocate that they need in that moment. But don’t forget yourself and your own family. You need to take care of yourself occasionally. And if you do choose a certain field in nursing and need a change, don’t forget that degree opens up many paths to you. 

It’s a tough, tough job. It’s also so incredibly rewarding. There truly is nothing like that feeling of knowing you’ve helped make a difference in someone’s life. It’s a time I’ll always cherish, and I join all of Hospital IQ in thanking our nurses for everything they do. Happy National Nurses week!