Nursing is a job unlike many others. Not only do nurses take care of a patient’s-medical needs, but their bedside manner is often what makes the difference in a patient’s journey through the medical process. May 6-12 is National Nurses Week when the country recognizes the efforts of those unsung heroes in the medical profession dedicated to taking care of those in need.
Sonya James has been a nurse for 12 years and works in Highlands-Cashiers Hospital’s Emergency Department. Her patients are often scared, in pain, or worried when she sees them and she’s there to keep them informed and at ease.
“A kind face, a smile, an introduction, this makes a world of difference,” said James. “I really listen to them and enjoy the bedside care. You want to understand as best you can how they’re feeling.”
James made the switch to nursing after 20 years as a medical technician. She said she wanted to be closer to her patients and changing roles in the medical field was a smooth transition.
“I wanted to try something different in the medical field,” said James. “As a nurse, I work closely with my patients and can give more direct care. I really enjoy that.”
Jessica Brooks has been at HCH for 10 years, 9 as a nurse and one as a CNA. She said she wanted to be a nurse since 6th-grade.
“It was that or a dolphin trainer, and I had my sights set on one of them,” said Brooks. “But honestly nursing is who I am, it’s my wellbeing.
After working in HCH’s Acute Care Surgical Unit for several years, Brooks made the switch to the ED.
“The Emergency Department was an opportunity to take care of more critical patients,” said Brooks. “It’s a much different pace and it’s challenging, but it’s really rewarding when you save someone’s life.”
As with all jobs, there are ups and downs. James said some cases are much more difficult than others. In one case a patient had come in who had severed their fingers in a workshop accident and she stressed the importance remaining calm and assuring. However, the cases that really stick with her are those involving children.
“When young people are in full-cardiac arrest, sometimes the outcome is ok but sometimes it’s not,” she said. “It wears on your heart strings.”
Brooks agreed that cases involving children are terrible, and that’s where nurses need to step up and be as supportive as they can be for the patients and families.
“When bad things happen, someone gets bad news,” said Brooks. “It’s our job to listen to the family and support them, and again that comes back to being rewarding that you were there for them and made them feel comfortable. I’m happy to be able to do that and give back to my community.”
HCH’s ED is rated first amongst HCA hospitals and third in the state in terms of patient satisfaction.
“That says a lot about the type of care we provide to our community,” said James. “We have a wonderful team of nurses in the ED. They are compassionate and care for each patient like our family. We’re a small unit here and people can see how we get along as a team.”
Nurses often work three 12-hour shifts a week, and James said things can get exhausting when you’re pushing the end of that third shift.
“By the end of that third one, you’re tired mentally,” said James. “Even if you’re not busy, you are wondering what’s going to walk through the door.”
She said having a week dedicated to the recognition of nurses makes her feel appreciated.
“It makes me feel valued to have a whole week in honor of nurses,” said James.
Editor’s Note: Remember folks, May 6-12 is National Nurses Week. If you have a family member or friend who’s a nurse, try and do something nice for them and let them know they’re appreciated.