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Humans of Healthcare: Cindy Mitchell Steele

10:25 PM · Sep 24, 2021

Cindy Mitchell Steele is a nurse educator at Umpqua Community College and is a nurse practitioner who does in-home assessments throughout the year. “The last year and a half of nursing has been an exercise in flexibility. My students that have graduated over the last five years are having a really hard time in their careers. They tell me, ‘you prepared us for death, you did not prepare us for this much death and grief.’ It’s sad to just watch our residents dying and we have our community arguing over the vaccine. “They are surrounded by dead people all day. They are all working like, 6 shifts a week, 12-hour shifts, often in areas they don’t work in just to help out. There’s no rest for the weary.” She’s had students tell her that their preceptor walked out of their 12 hour shift and they were taunted by a community member driving by, “Where’s all the dead people? I don’t see any.” Another former student who has been an Intensive Care Unit nurse for three years had, in one day, two patients’ hearts stop and three people in their 20s and 30s get intubated. In a normal shift, they might have one or two patients’ hearts stop in a day. “They don’t have people die every day in ICU. She had one patient’s heart stop three times before she died. You’re working really hard to save the patient and it’s just death upon death and that’s really really hard. And them to not feel the support of the community. It just keeps coming. They go home and cry. I absolutely love being a nurse, but the last few months have been so hard, the feeling of helplessness caring for the sickest patients I’ve ever seen. They don’t have time to process the traumas that are happening one after another “During 9/11, the whole nation came together, supported each other, and cried with each other. There’s this collective trauma right now, even from the housekeepers of the hospital. It’s a collective trauma that we’re saving for later. “Nursing school is hard, not during a pandemic. I can hear their resilience being built in having to be flexible. It’s been encouraging to see our first group of students who had to roll with the punches graduate in the spring. I can’t imagine starting in nursing right now. Becoming a nurse is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can’t imagine starting out my career in the midst of this pandemic. I know that they are being challenged beyond what is humanly possible to carry but I pray every day that God will see them through. They need our support.”