New nurses reflect on past year, career choice
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The CDC is relaxing precautions for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but for those working on the front lines, the fight is not over yet.
CHI Health St. Elizabeth’s intensive care unit has been a hub for treating COVID-19 patients for the past year and for nurses new and old, a place where learning and adapting are constant.
“Keeping an open mind and being able to change with these new theories and the new treatments that come out is what I would have told myself a year ago,” said Jacob Steiner. “If I could have, it’s something I’ve really relied on and something that’s really helped me grow in the past year.”
Steiner was a CNA for six years before becoming an RN. Starting in the ICU nine months ago, during the peak of hospitalizations in Lincoln.
“Having basically a completely full ICU at all times,” Steiner said. “Constantly having a full amount of patients shook me a little bit but it really helped solidify the fact that I’m proud of being a nurse; I’m happy with my choice.”
During shift change, Steiner often swaps out with Kyleigh Heger. This is her third year working in the building and her first as an employee in the ICU.
“Coming in and just being a new nurse, you were learning so many things but it was all just adapted to COVID,” Heger said.
Heger said that community support has been felt throughout her unit and the hospital for the past year.
With everything from yard signs, dropped off meals, and family gratitude expressed long after patients left her care.
“Especially the really sick ones that we didn’t know if they were going to pull through or not,” Heger said. “All of those stories and all of that recognition from those families is pretty much what keeps us going.”
This week is Nurse Appreciation Week and both Heger and Steiner said they’re enjoying the extra boost.
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