‘I want everyone to know we’re here, and we always will be’

‘I want everyone to know we’re here, and we always will be’

I’ve always known I belonged in health care. It was my only interest growing up. My parents encouraged us to help others in every way we can, and there is no better career than nursing to do so.

My biggest passion is my patients. We get to grow with these children. We feel what they feel right there with them – their joys, pains, frustrations. Helping parents heal their kids is the greatest pressure, but also the greatest joy. We know there is nothing scarier than seeing your child sick.

The pandemic has truly changed everything. The PPE we wear makes comforting our patients difficult. They’re scared, and it’s so hard when they can’t even see my face. Being in the hospital is scary enough. COVID-19 has meant we can’t bring a sense of comfort to some kids. As a nurse, that’s the hardest part. I see fear in my patients’ eyes, and I can’t hug them, sit with them, walk with them. We’ve tried to make masks more “fun” for our patients by using stickers and faces.

It’s humbling to be able to work on the front lines. When the world shut down and everyone was scared and helpless, we offered help. That feeling has motivated me during the entire pandemic. I feel more proud than ever to be a nurse. Of course, we’ve felt highs and lows throughout this past year. Helping and comforting children and their families has meant the world, but we’ve had our frustrations. As cases surged, many of us floated to adult units. Stepping out of your comfort zone every day can be frustrating. We face new challenges when we come to work.

I just want everyone to know we’re here. We always will be. No matter the frustrations, the exhaustion or the long hours. Patients are our number one priority. I’m willing to do absolutely anything to bring a smile to a scared face. We’re always wearing our smiles under our masks.

To be able to make a difference in the life of a child during times like this is the greatest reward I could ever ask for.

Priyanka Sharma is a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit at Advocate Children’s Hospital.

Click here for more stories about doctors, nurses and others working on the front lines.

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Priyanka Sharma