“Please join us at this table and allow me to be the first to pull up your chair”
This blog was written by Staff Nurse and Challengers’ Committee member Amy Staley.
From before I even officially earned the title of “Registered Nurse”, I had always dreamed about seeing more nurses “At the table”. What I mean by that, is that I envisioned nurses running for office, making decisions, and sitting in the most powerful of seats. When I was invited to join the Nursing Now Challenge, Challengers’ Committee, I was thrilled to have a seat at their table. The Nursing Now Challenge is a table built for nurses, by nurses. It is more than a table actually, rather an entire community and platform where nurses are celebrated, encouraged, and empowered.
My first experience with the Nursing Now Challenge took place this past May when I took part in the Nursing Now Global Footprints event, where I had the privilege of speaking about my experiences of nursing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, New York City shut down. While the rest of the world took a step back, my hospital took a step forward. As the number of critical patients whom we treated grew, the support and love from our leaders and community grew as well. For a population of 8.5 million people, our streets were bare and silent. However at 7 pm each night, our neighbors fled to their balconies, cheering and applauding for frontline workers like myself. An incredible symbol of humanity, for the fact that these individuals stayed home to give us chance to care for those who needed it most. Our hospital leadership provided housing, hotel rooms, meals, and mental health resources – all free of charge. We were overwhelmed with gratitude, and while we witnessed so many heartbreaking moments, the chaos didn’t scare me. Treating multiple COVID patients who were maxed out on oxygen did not shake me. What bothered me, was the silence. I was more comfortable at work, for once I left and went home to an empty household, it was quiet. Too quiet. I found comfort in my colleagues and leadership team, knowing that I wasn’t alone in having these feelings. I remember walking to the train, exhausted from a tough shift and receiving an e-mail from our executive leadership team. We received many mass e-mails, however, this one was addressed specifically to me. When I opened it, I realized that it was a letter from a patient. That letter carried me through many more exhausting days and nights, and I remember thinking to myself, “This hospital has tens of thousands of employees and we’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, but yet they took the time to track me down to send me this letter”. I have yet to meet the CEO of my hospital, but I hope to someday have the opportunity to thank him and let him know how much that meant to me.
Months later, I had the opportunity to volunteer to travel to Florida to assist in a COVID hotspot where I was assigned some of the most critical patients I had ever cared for. Supplies were scarce, but support was not, as my management team was in contact 24 hours a day to ensure that the other nurses and myself felt safe and supported.
Speaking about my experiences is a healing experience, and it is because of the Nursing Now Challenge that I am given this platform to heal. After speaking alongside so many incredible nurse leaders at the Nursing Now Global Footprints event in May, I was invited to take part in a training session led by the team at Health Action Training which has since improved my communication and teamwork skills as a nurse.
Being a part of the Nursing Now Challenger’s Committee has connected me with so many powerful leaders, nurses, and individuals. Most recently, I was selected as a winner of the Nursing Now Challenge Global Solutions Initiative in collaboration with the Sabin Vaccine Institute. As a result, I now spend my Tuesday mornings alongside other nurses from across the world, learning how to efficiently share stories to promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and adherence. Those “Silent and quiet moments” which I once dreaded are now spent laughing, sharing ideas, and feeling empowered by other nurses from across the world. Being part of the Nursing Now Challenge, I feel valued and respected.
When I was in nursing school, one of my professors said, “When you get your first job, always remember to be the kind of nurse that you’d want to work with”. I don’t think that I truly understood what that meant until I began working at NYP and became connected with the Nursing Now Challenge. And because I am a “Nursing Now Challenger” I would like to leave each of you here with a challenge today. Whether you are a nurse or not, challenge yourself to be the type of person that you’d want to work with. Boost morale, spread joy, connect with someone else that could use a little bit of your spirit. And if you are a nurse who is ready to join this challenge in healing, uplifting others, and finding the true joy in being a nurse, please join us at this table, and allow me to be the first to pull up your chair.