In their own words: the nurses who shared their photos and stories in our Nurses Week contest!

We can’t wait to let you know about the first winner of the nurse photo contest we launched this Nurses Week!

But we want to do more than that here. We want to thank all the other nurses who stepped forward and sent in their photos, and we want to share their messages with you. Some of your stories were heartening; some were heartbreaking. But all of you, whether you are on the front lines battling COVID-19, holding up the fort in other units that had to struggle to adapt, or standing ready to jump back in after being furloughed, deserve to be heard as well as seen.

The winner: Marty Moore

We selected Marty Moore as winner because her photo and the message she shared together strike a balance that is very much of this Coronavirus-plagued time, yet forward-looking with an uplifting spirit:

“My name is Marty and I am a labor and delivery nurse… been in the biz 25 years almost and still have a sense of humor! The turmoil and heart break happening in our world right now warrants laughter, right there with the huge love all of us nurses are so excellent and selfless at giving…

Stay safe everyone, and let’s push some major healing energy to our great planet… Oh and smile… Stay solid and strong. WE GOT THIS!!”

Remember: our nurse photo contest has not ended! As long as enough new submissions come in, we will select new winners, and each winner receives $100. We want to show nurses — real nurses — in all your diversity, of all ages, backgrounds and specialisations!

To all the nurses we feature below: thank you. Thank you so much. Not just for your participation, but for your tireless work and willingness to help, often in inexcusably difficult conditions.

Shayna Julian

“I’ve been a nurse for two years and I never thought I would be a part of something of this magnitude. I have always worked in nursing homes and it’s scary how fast this virus spreads. I’ve seen a lot of people quit and walk out. This pandemic has been an eye opener, but I love being a nurse.”

Tara Taylor

“I’m a dialysis nurse who dialyzes patients in a LTC facility. The workday is long and hot with over eight hours a day of wearing an N95 mask and caring for Covid-19 and other patients in a small room. The facility is quarantined so no visitors are allowed.

I see the patients’ distress in not being able to see or hug their family members. I try to be a beacon of light and keep them all upbeat. At the same time, I try to keep myself safe so that my family is safe when I go home to them.”

Trishell Gladney

“Nurses week! The VA hospital of Livermore kicked off the first day wearing vintage and retro uniforms. The veterans loved it! We serve them with compassion and care, and don’t mind doing things to put smiles on their faces. During this pandemic they can’t have visitors, so we’re the closest thing to family and friends…”

Cynthia Boyd

“I work in a community hospital that was a designated hot spot for covid 19. I am a pacu rn. Due to the high numbers of admissions, the pacu was turned into a covid 19 negative pressure room. This meant wearing full ppe for the entire shift without many breaks.

It was extremely challenging on so many levels caring for such sick patients. Some days it was difficult to keep up with the demands. But we all pulled together helping each other any way we could. We have formed new friendships and brought our own individual strengths into caring for these patients. I would have done this any other way. I am proud to have been part of caring for these patients and have never been more proud to be a nurse.”

Crystal Clements

Photo: Crystal Clements

“I love nursing! I’ve been a nurse for 27 years. This is the first time in my career that I have truly worried about safety due to talk of sterilizing and reusing masks when it isn’t guaranteed you’ll get your own mask back. I worked in the covid unit. It is hot and exhausting. I feel for the patients and families during these uncertain times. We will persevere.”

Kristen Geiger

“Giving a shout out to my fellow Home Care nurses. We get overlooked a lot and frankly no one really knows all we do until they come join us. But we are there with you, fighting this fight! Gearing up everyday. Keep going nurses! We get through this together.”

Jennifer Wintermoon

“I’m a night shift charge nurse at an LTC facility. Twelve years LVN, four years CNA, two years as a sitter. Worked full time, nursing school full time, unexpectedly single mom to five kids, one with severe mental illness. I have definitely paid my dues.

I fought my way back from a terminal diagnosis and use that same tenacity to fight for my patients. If I get this vicious virus, it will most certainly kill me. We are given cloth masks from the community. We are made to reuse surgical masks for multiple shifts. We are doing everything we can to stay alive, to keep our patients alive and we’re doing it with almost no resources.

I have not and will not miss a shift, because what I do matters. Life and death matters. I make a difference. Just like each and every one of you. Without my support crews, both up and down the ladder, I would fail. And failing the people that depend on me is not an acceptable option. This is not my job. This is who I am.”

Jody Eaton

“I am a public health nurse with St. Louis County, but have been working from home now for over a month. I’m still able to assess my clients and carry out my job duties from afar. I miss seeing my clients first hand and will be glad when the pandemic comes to an end.

To keep in touch with my team, we attend weekly Zoom meetings and also have daily text chains which include our supervisor. We are a tight knit group and thankfully work well together. I’m blessed to be able to continue in my position as it is my passion to see those I serve receive the assistance they need.”

Nichole Stiles

“I have been an LPN for 20 years, I was a CNA prior to getting my LPN. When I was twelve years old, I spent 3-5 nights each week with an elderly woman for about three years, even on school nights. I knew way back then that I wanted to be a nurse. I love my career!

Approximately three weeks ago, unfortunately I was one of many employees to get laid off due to Covid-19. I’ve never been off of work, never been laid off, never had to file for unemployment until now. After things get back to normal, I’m sure more jobs will open up again. Thank you for this opportunity!”

Cassandra Hoff

“This is myself, my coworker Patricia, and my boss Diane. We are hospice nurses. While we haven’t had to take care of patients with Covid yet, we have been affected by not being able to allow many visitors to see their family.”

Monica Segrist

“I am blessed and proud to say that I had the opportunity and pleasure to work at the Chelsea soldier’s home and help out the very people who are my heroes.”

Some of you sent in your photos with only a brief caption, and your submissions were just as welcome! We cannot show them all, but we feel like we owe it to you to share at least some of them with our readers.

Lori Digirolamo is an ER Nurse at Brooklyn Hospital – and this is her amazing team!

Danielle Dent — respect!

Anna Keenan: “Still Smiling!”

Chelsea Cannon, at the Covid ICU of Banner University Medical Center Phoenix.

Brittney Ahrendsen: “Rockin’ my PPE as a dialysis nurse manager.”

Tatenda Bomba sent in this photo of herself, and left a comment on our blog that speaks to the sheer grief nurses on the front lines have had to face: “I have been working on a covid unit since March. I am emotionally drained, tired of seeing people die alone. Tired of being tired. We as nurse are superheroes.”

We also received a number of submissions where we suspect an accompanying message got lost in transmission. The photos are still moving, as they reveal harsh moments as well as comforting ones: here we see Mary Christine Johansen, Natalia Ziuzianski, Nargiza Oqilova, Angelika Arnaoudoff, Nikki Karlen, Brenda Luchs, Kelly Vickers, Crystal Allen and Maria Schulz, but there were more! Would you like us to still add a personal note? Please let us know.

Nurses Week 2020 photo contest collage

To close off this collection of beautiful photos, moving stories and inspiring notes, we defer to Elizabeth Kemp, who added the perfect quote to her submission:

“To do what nobody else will do, in spite of all we go through; that is to be a nurse” — Rawsi William

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