Many people don’t think about it but there are other ways of offering support during a crisis besides going directly to a devastated area as a volunteer nurse providing patient care. Some start a medical supply drive and others a clothing drive. Still, others offer to pick up extra shifts when their co-workers are willing to travel to provide disaster relief.
When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, I was a recently-graduated, recently-off-orientation RN on a Telemetry Unit. My former nurse preceptor had expressed the desire to go to New Orleans to help but needed someone to replace her as she would be gone over the weekend that she was scheduled to work.
As a new nurse, I didn’t feel comfortable heading to another region of the country to help critically ill or injured people. My skills were still developing and my confidence wasn’t “there” yet.
So, I offered to cover for my former preceptor as she traveled to the Gulf Coast. This, in turn, freed up a highly skilled and experienced cardiac nurse who was able to provide patient care to people who were in dire need. It also gave me more nursing experience without the pressure of doing my nursing job in the middle of a crisis.
With the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, once again my former preceptor is eager to go to the East Coast to offer help. Unfortunately, I have moved to another facility and can’t serve as her back up. However, I am thinking of her, and I am grateful that she is willing to go as a nurse volunteer.