Healing hands, caring hearts

NURSES. Often overlooked and undervalued. People have forgotten that we pursued this field of endeavor for the love of knowledge and skills, despite the expensive tuition fees and RLE (related learning experience) fees. We did not become nurses just to be exploited.

We love our profession and we take pride in our core values of compassion, trustworthiness, humility, accountability and curiosity. Nursing is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling career paths when it comes to a wealth of medical knowledge and skills that allow you to facilitate healing and alleviate suffering through diagnosis and treatment.

To clarify a false notion, as said by a certain politician, nurses truly need to be “ganun kagaling” and nurses are not just mere “tagapag-alaga”. We deal with lives and the integrity thereof. Sad to say, nurses are not considered as important as teachers and the police here in the Philippines. There’s a lack of opportunity for such profession and a lack of support from everyone. Even stories of exploitation have been swept under the rug. Many have opted to turn their backs on this field just so that they may earn a living for their families. Others moved abroad to practice their profession. As a result, we have a limited number of nurses on actual hospital duty.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for nurses have risen. Nurses, together with doctors and other healthcare workers, work really hard day and night to save as many lives as possible. Despite inscrutable efforts amidst crisis, there are those who would still radically malign nurses. Case in point is one viral social media post. That was just sensationalized because of its explicit message which garnered uncountable violent reactions. However, that wasn’t just one case. There are also other strikes which came almost unnoticed because they were either subliminal or subtle.

Further, there is the problem of insufficient supply of PPEs to shield the healthcare workers. This is a problem that needs immediate solution. This is a sad truth that many frontliners in the medical field and allied professionals can relate with.

A certain Nurse Angela poured her heart out in frustration: “I’m so tired of hearing that people in the medical field shouldn’t complain because they knew what they signed up for.”

She countered, “Yes, I signed up to be a nurse. I signed up to be compassionate, caring and empathetic. I signed up to use my skillset to assess and treat all types of illnesses. I signed up to learn the intricacies of disease processes, titrate lifesaving drips, administer routine medications, assist in procedures, and insert tubes in all kinds of orifices. I signed up to celebrate with those who are healing and comfort those who are mourning. I signed up to be an advocate, a medical-jargon translator, and a voice of reason. I signed up knowing I would always go to work with the possibility of coming into contact with well-known but incurable diseases such as HIV and AIDS. We face hepatitis, c-diff, MRSA, VRE, ESBL, and Tuberculosis while knowing that contracting any of those could severely alter our personal health. Yes, I signed up for those things”.

Nurse Angela explained further, “Let me tell you what I did not sign up for. I did not sign up to fight a global pandemic while wearing a bandana as a make-shift mask. I did not sign up to provide care for patients diagnosed with a newly developing illness without appropriate personal protective equipment to do so. I did not sign up to defend myself against a disease that the CDC is still studying the transmission mode of. I did not sign up to practice nursing during a time when our patient’s visitors are stealing supplies that are already on a nationwide shortage. I did not sign up to walk into every shift with the gut-wrenching fear that I could take a death-sentence home to my family...especially my immunocompromised child.”

“Yes, we all know what we signed up for, and I can assure you, this isn’t it. We still show up, but we are allowed to be scared of the uncertainty, too. Give us some grace as we navigate these uncharted waters,” Angela wrapped up.

Sadly, many have lost the touch of empathy. Ironically, people do not empathize to one of the most empathic deliverers of health care to the society. I call on to everyone to please try to put yourselves in their shoes. These brave heroes literally risk their very lives for the good of many. They even put the safety of their families at risk in service of others. Clearly, they truly deserve our empathy and our respect.


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