Pandemic shows challenges of what nurses do, those in profession say

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Nurses are there for the joys of birth, the agonies of death and everything in between.

Wednesday was National Nurses Day, and WREG’s April Thompson talked with a longtime nurse about her career of choice and the impact this pandemic may have on those going into nursing.

“We have providers, physicians, we have health care team members, we have technology. The nurse is the thread that pulls all of that together and delivers that compassionate care,” said registered nurse Cindy Wooten.

Almost 50 years ago, Wooten chose a career that would stick with her for life.

After graduating as an R.N. from Baptist School of Nursing in 1974, she never left Memphis and has been working in the nursing field at Baptist Hospital ever since.

Nurses treat everything from AIDS to SARS, but this coronavirus is different.

“I think the thing that is unique about this pandemic is how much is unknown. It is exciting to know that we are discovering every day and there is a science to it,” she said.

That’s why she says it’s important nurses have support like she sees at Baptist.

“We are also blessed to have support processes in place, making sure that we have adequate PPE,” she said.

She thinks this pandemic will both draw people to, and pull people from, nursing.

“It is something personal,” she said. “It is a challenge and you want to come back the next day and do even better.”

Dr. Glynis Blackard helps nursing students as they enter the nursing program at UT Health Science Center, where she is the assistant dean of student affairs.

“You have to become a generalist,” she said. “There are lots of things you have to know. When you are in nursing school you are exposed to all different specialties.”

Blackard, a registered nurse, tells students the pandemic shows the challenges nurses face.

“We talk about how we are prepared to be able to take care of something like this infectious disease that we are dealing with at this time. And now nursing school prepares you to be able to do that,” she said.

Right now, UT Health Science Center has about 400 students in all of its nursing programs. “It is truly a blessing to be able to go to work and take care of people and come home at the end of the day and know that you have made a difference in someone’s life,” Blackard said.

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