Q: What made you decide to be a nurse?
A: I've spent a big chunk of my life being a wilderness guide and river guide. And through that, I became a wilderness first responder, and I just started to go deeper and deeper into medicine. To be honest, being a nurse is a lot like being a guide — you're still helping people in these times of discomfort and trying to figure out how to make it through to the other side.
Q: What is your name, and where do you work?
A: My name is Kyle, and I'm an emergency RN in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Q: What made you decide to be a nurse?
A: I've spent a big chunk of my life being a wilderness guide and river guide, always working with people and helping them through situations that are not necessarily the most comfortable in very uncomfortable places that are still amazing. And through that, I became a wilderness first responder, and I just started to go deeper and deeper into medicine. To be honest, being a nurse is a lot like being a guide — you're still helping people in these times of discomfort and trying to figure out how to make it through to the other side. Just, in this case, a lot of those days it's these people's worst days. And so it's a really amazing opportunity that nurses have to be there to help those people on those days.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: I usually kick my day off at 5:00AM. Wake up, have a cup of coffee, a couple of cups of coffee depending on how deep into the days we are. I try to stretch every day. I think it's really important the nurses take care of themselves, so I try to embody that. I typically ride my bicycle to work. Again, I feel like if I'm not on the floor, then I'm not getting any other exercise besides just running back and forth. So I try to bike commute and then drop into the ER, and we do a big huddle out in the hallway since it's been COVID time. Our charge nurses get us fired up for the day, and we kind of get to hem and haw with all of our fellow nurses and our fellow team Docs. Then we get our assignments and strap in the pagers, lock on the Voceras and make sure the fanny pack's full because you never know when the day will get rowdy.
Q: What do you wish that people outside of healthcare knew/understood about nurses?
A: It's tough to say, really. I think, especially after this year. It has been just a very brutal year, and we're getting to see how far the human spirit can be pushed. I think healthcare has really felt that pressure, but we still have to go home to our families. We still have kids, and we still have spouses. I guess what I want people to know is that we're still people. We're not just your healthcare provider; we also have our stories, we also have personal things going on in our lives. I really value all of my fellow nurses, healthcare providers, housekeepers — anybody who's been showing up to the hospital, especially in this past year. They're amazing people, and to those who aren't in healthcare — just to go and thank them. Just thank healthcare providers. If your neighbor is a nurse or a doctor, or if they're a housekeeper that works at the hospital — thank them. It is a very challenging situation, it's high pace and high stress, and then we come home and live our lives with our families and friends. We're just your next-door neighbors.
Q: What do you think your superpower is?
A: Probably my cheerful attitude.. I try to start my day fired up, and I try to carry that and let that burn all the way through the day. I think, for the most part, it gets other people excited. I wanna be someone that my team members are really pumped to be around when they see me walk down the hall, and they say, "Oh, Kyle's on today." I want that to be positive for them. I think 95% of the time, that is the case, and I think sometimes people just need a couple more cups of coffee before they can quite handle me at 6:00AM.
Q: Can you tell us about a moment or story that reminds you why you love being a nurse?
A: There's nothing fantastic or Hollywood about this story, but I think about it all the time when I'm having a really tough time at work or when I catch myself wondering why I'm doing what I'm doing. We had this sweet patient who had been diagnosed with a fatal type of cancer, whose family was in the hospital every day coming to visit our floor. He wasn't going to make it more than a couple of weeks once he went on hospice and was sent home, and we interacted with his family and learned who he was, learned his story a little bit, got to know them a little bit, and then we discharged him. That was kind of the end of it — or so we thought. Probably a month later, we got a letter from the family, and they knew every single one of us who had had direct patient contact and had made their family member feel cared for and loved at the end of his life. They felt that, and it touched us.
There's a lot of noise, and a lot of hard times in the hospital, but moments like these help cut through all of it and remind us — remind me — why I'm doing this.