‘Thank You’ – National Nursing Week

‘Thank You’ – National Nursing Week

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May 9-15 marks National Nursing Week across Canada. And for our nursing workforce across the province, there are never enough thank yous

I knew what I was getting into when I married a nurse, or at least I thought I did. 

I shacked up – proudly I might add – with a nurse coming from a long line of nurses. 

Mother, aunt, sister, all proudly serving in the profession of healing and helping the sick and vulnerable. What could be more rewarding, I’d wonder?

I thought I knew what came with the territory: long hours, physical and emotional exhaustion, the occasional mood swings not of my own making. It was all there in the unofficial fine print on my marriage certificate to a first line health care worker in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

What you don’t see, and couldn’t possibly prepare for, is just how rigorous the act of helping and healing is. The often thankless days and nights, the degeneration of the body in almost real time, the constant need to wear a brave face. The tears that flow from the constant barrage of loss. Seemingly unending waves of loss.

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Pandemic Burden

No, you’re never ready for just how heavy the job is. You can spout your hollow yet well-meaning sentiments, your words of compassion and try to come down to the level of worker-bee, but unless you’ve walked a day in their shoes and scrubs, you know nothing. You’ll always know nothing.

Take an already demanding profession and throw in a worldwide pandemic for good measure. A recent study from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) found that 94 per cent of nurses are experiencing symptoms of burnout, and 50 per cent of nurses said they are considering leaving their jobs over the next year. 

“Frontline health workers have had to shoulder too much of the pandemic burden – worsening patient ratios and forced overtime while facing increased violence, harassment and unsafe workplaces,” shared Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) in a release this past March “Nurses across the country are coming together to say enough is enough.”

So what can we do? Aside from the policy-makers and those at the top of the bureaucratic food chain, who can implement real change, what can we, the husbands or wives, the sisters and brothers, friends or work colleagues offer? You sponge it all in. 

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Take the stress, the anger, the sadness, the exhaustion. Wear it like armour so your loved one doesn’t have to buckle under the weight of it all. You wear it, because we the layfolk have no idea the weight these workers shoulder. Not a single solitary clue. 

Never enough thank yous

May 9-15 marks National Nursing Week across Canada. It’s an occasion to give our thanks to these tireless workers who make up the bedrock of our healthcare system. 

Let this week be a reminder of what we collectively could and should do for frontline health care workers year-round. Shower them with thank yous. There are never enough thank yous and they generally do make an impact.

Buy a nurse a coffee, send them a card, offer that hug, handshake or genuinely needed pat on the back. These pittances of acknowledgment can only serve to galvanize a workforce in much need of positive emotional reinforcement. 

So thank you nurses. From mine, to yours, and the faceless heroes toiling in the shadows. There are never enough thank yous. 

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Dillon Collins is a writer based out of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Multi-time MusicNL nominee for Media Person of the Year. Lover of heavy metal, hoppy beverages and the loveable canine.

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