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Heroes Work Here

Nurses Interpretation of Being Called a Hero

As nurses, we sometimes see things quite differently than the rest of the public. One of those things has been COVID-19. After talking to our peers here at Capsol, we noticed a big difference in nurses’ interpretation of being called a hero and how the public perceived it. This article is going to share the thoughts of the term “hero” from a nurse point of view and what the public should know. If you are a nurse, and you feel like we have read your mind when we’re finished here, share this with those around you. 

Now that we have established some ground work, let’s share how many nurses have interpreted being called a hero. 

Heroes Work Here

About a year ago, the lives of those across the world were turned upside down as the global pandemic began to take over. Us nurses were the ones that took the brunt of it. In the face of danger, nurses were provided with minimal PPE and no substantial knowledge of what they were dealing with. After all, there wasn’t a chapter on COVID-19 in nursing school. 

Very early on, the term healthcare heroes was coined and it spread across the nation, many people going out of their way to thank their “healthcare heroes”. Signs were put up stating things like “Heroes Work Here” and special offers and shopping times were given to them. 

Now one year later, nurses are still being referred to as heroes. And while this is nice on the surface, it is ultimately a way to disguise the darker truth. Among the signs at several nurse-led protests have been signs that read along the lines of “I am being martyred against my will”. Nurses did not and still don’t want to be heroes. They, like anyone else, want to be able to do their jobs safely. 

Now, don’t take this the wrong way. Nurses are finally being appreciated for what they do by the public every day, and the special discounts and general thanks are wonderful, however, most nurses would trade the special discounts, appreciation, and free food for a whole host of things such as a safe workplace. 

The trouble is that the healthcare system was broken before the pandemic, and the pandemic just made things worse. 

Even before COVID-19, nurses were burnt out, leaving the field at exponential rates, taking on unsafe staffing ratios, and being underpaid for it. When the pandemic hit at full force, all of these things multiplied and then they were doing all of these things and dealing with their own safety. 

So even though it is kind to give nurses the thanks they deserve, calling them heroes isn’t exactly what they need, which brings up the question of: What can we really do to appreciate our nurses instead of just calling them heroes?

Here are some ideas to truly appreciate and help nurses:

Support things like safe staffing ratio legislatures. 

  • Sign petitions
  • Write to your state and federal officials
  • Participate in peaceful protests

Encourage pay increases rather than free food. 

  • For community hospitals, much of the budget comes from taxpayer dollars so speak up to your local officials and administration

Though the PPE situation is getting better, donate if you can. 

  • Surgical masks, gowns, and gloves can always be used if you come across them

Provide mental health support for nurses.

  • Being a shoulder for your nurse friends
  • Supporting mental health groups
  • Encouraging your loved ones to seek help
  • Acting on causes that provide mental health to healthcare professionals 

Have better etiquette when your family is in the hospital or being cared for.  

  • Thank the nurses that are caring for your family
  • Abide by the rules of the unit
  • Create one spokesperson for the entire family to save your nurse time and allow them to give better care to your loved ones

In general, nurses don’t need to be called a hero, but what they do need is support, action, and a voice. They need support in their communities, action on better working environments, and a voice that can be heard by people in power. With these things, they wouldn’t need to be called a hero. Nurses would be able to do their jobs safely and provide their community with the service they are passionate about. 

Now, we know that here at Capsol, we have a community of some really amazing nurses that deserve to be appreciated the right way. 

If you agree with this article, sending it to your loved ones or sharing it on social media is a great way to show the public how we actually feel when they call us heroes and gives them actionable steps to help us better our workplace. 

Katelyn Johnson

Katelyn Johnson

Author

Katelyn has a Master’s in Healthcare Administration and five years of clinical experience. She has made the shift to full-time freelance writing and enjoys covering topics on nursing careers, lifestyle, and community. Her goal is to help start a conversation and spread awareness around the many ups and downs of the healthcare field.

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