I have been a nurse for 39 years, 26 of those as an RN and the last 12 as a nurse practitioner. I graduated with my associate’s degree at the age of 20, my bachelor’s degree at the age of 22, and I worked as an RN for Syringa Hospital for 23 years and at St. Mary’s Health for the past 12 years. I have worked long hours caring for this community. I have worn out my back and my knees, and my heart has grown to love and have compassion for so many of you. I have helped your babies to be born and I have held the hands of your dying family members.
For many of those years I worked in the emergency room and I was honored to save lives and hold the grieving. That passion led me to study for my master’s degree to better care for my community as a nurse practitioner. I was trained to use “Evidence-Based Practice,” which means treatments need to be studied and evaluated for their effectiveness. With my new degree and credentials, I started treating this community. The risk I took was more significant than it was when I was an RN. I had to practice with the research to back me up, and it required constant training and reading. After years of practice, I often found I could not answer some of my patients’ questions regarding some new study reported on the evening news, or on Facebook. I needed to be able to understand research better. I enrolled in a doctoral program to be able to discern good research from bad. In 2018, I graduated with my doctorate of nursing practice.
In 2020, COVID comes on the scene and never in my entire career has the ability to discern fact from fiction been more necessary than it is right now. I contracted COVID in October of 2020 while at work and nearly died. After I “recovered,” I returned to work in December, but found that I was weak, fatigued, and had chronic nausea and abdominal pain. That month, the COVID vaccine came out. I had much fear, but I put my education to work and found that, even though I had already contracted COVID, it was recommended that I get the vaccine. So, to practice what I preach, I got the “JAB,” as they say. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/adverse-events.html)
Now nine months later, as the second wave of COVID runs through Idaho, Clearwater, and Lewis counties, research is showing significant protection for those vaccinated. No, it is not 100 percent effective, nor is it completely side effect free for some people, but it is effective nonetheless. In preparing for this article, I dug back into research again and the research shows that for those people who contract COVID, despite having been vaccinated, their chance of long COVID is reduced by 49 percent. Long COVID, or “Long haulers” as you may hear it called, is when a patient experiences post-COVID conditions for four or more weeks, or sometimes much longer, after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/09/210901191407.htm) Research even shows that mothers who were vaccinated while pregnant are showing antibodies in their breast milk. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/210824104139.htm).
Instead of leaving the nursing profession, like many other emotional nurses are posting on Facebook, I can safely continue to work in healthcare. I believe in “Evidence-Based” health care. I am proud of what I have done in the past and will continue to do for my family, friends, and neighbors. I beg those reading this to consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine if they have not already done so.