Jumping Into the Unknown: Nurse Alum Travels to the COVID-19 Frontlines in New York CityShare this page
Emilee Barron enjoys jumping into new situations to challenge herself – a trait she said is necessary for healthcare as interventions of care evolve almost daily.
Barron, who completed her RN to BSN degree at the University of West Georgia’s Tanner Health System School of Nursing in 2017, recently returned home to Woodland, Alabama, after working for more than three weeks in a New York City hospital.
“The news and social media were blasting the need for nurses in hotspots,” Barron began. “I casually talked to my husband about it, but I don’t think he thought I was serious at that point.”
After speaking with a recruiter, Barron and two of her nursing friends were able to get the information that allowed them to travel to New York.
“I told myself, I cannot sit down when I have the knowledge and skills to go help those in need,” Barron continued. “After receiving confirmation from the recruiter, I had 48 hours to arrive in NYC and begin working the next day.”
Barron said that nursing school definitely prepared her to be a nurse, but nothing could have prepared her for working in the city during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, relying on past experiences helped her remain calm during the storm and rely on the skills and knowledge she earned at UWG.
“I can remember instructors constantly reminding me to think critically in all situations but especially during emergency situations,” she said. “Working in NYC, I had to constantly keep a check on myself to stay in a critical thinking mindset. I wanted my emotions to enter, but I had to remain strong for the patients and for my team.”
Bringing home memories that will stay with her for a lifetime, Barron also made friends she’ll never forget.
“We were more than friends for those 24 days,” Barron said. “We were family – ‘battle buddies’ for life. I couldn’t have made it without them, and we picked each other up along the way.”
Barron said the days were tough – mentally, physically and emotionally. There are many things she’ll never be able to forget, but one thing she’ll remember is certain.
“I went there to help, and I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone,” she recalled. “I served my country and my community during this time in history.”
Barron recalled that even on the dark days, a light would shine in the hallways as the hospital speakers would announce that another patient had come off a ventilator. They would all celebrate and cheer as uplifting music was played.
“Talk about chills,” she concluded. “Those moments each day made everything we did feel so worth it. Nursing is such a rewarding career. You’ll have bad days, but you are there to perform good, compassionate and caring work in a career that will take you places and mold you and your heart forever.”
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