GREENE COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Grace Booe has spent a majority of her nursing career on the frontlines treating COVID-19.
Booe, who works the night shift in the intensive care unit at Greene County General Hospital, has plenty of memories to share regarding COVID-19 treatments. Booe recalled losing patients to the virus and having to watch their family members say goodbye through glass.
“It’s hard, because the family members can see them outside the door but they weren’t able to go in,” Booe said. “They would have to say their goodbyes through a window, and it was hard to see that. It’s happened more times than I would like to count.”
The weight of the nursing profession during the pandemic is something local nursing students like Kaylie Meehan have noticed.
“Being within the hospital, especially for our clinical experience, you really see it,” the St. Mary-of-the-Woods College student said. “They have patients where we’re discharging a patient as a nursing student, you’re helping discharge, and within an hour that bed is filled again.”
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Indiana State University nursing student Blake Wiseman has also observed the burnout among local nurses.
“I did an externship this summer at a community hospital and a lot of people, they were like if this keeps getting worse, I don’t think I can do this again.” Wiseman said. “It scares me because I don’t want that to happen to me, especially in my first year in the profession.”
The American Nursing Association anticipates more than 500,000 seasoned registered nurses will retire by 2022. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a need for 1.1 million new RNs to avoid further shortage.
“I’m scared that I’m gonna be scheduled and it’ll just be me and other new grads, because all of the experienced ones are going to be gone,” Wiseman shared.
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Despite the current strain on the profession, Meehan said she remains passionate and prepared, thanks in part to her schooling.
“When I get to a point in my life, if I’m ever reaching a point where I’m burnt out, it will be inspiring to look back on all we’ve gone through just as nursing students,” Meehan said. “And realize hey, this isn’t so bad, we can totally do this.”
Wiseman encouraged fellow nursing students to stay dedicated to the essential career.
“Stick to it if it’s something you’re passionate about, because people need passion in this world right now,” Wiseman said.
As for Booe, she said her strength comes from her coworkers and a commitment to to the level of care she knows is needed for her patients.
“When it gets tough, always think if you had a family member there, how would you want to take care of them?” Booe said. “You would want them to have the best care possible. I always try to take care of every patient like it’s my own family member.”