INDIANAPOLIS — Amy Barger has been a registered nurse for 12 years. She worked at Methodist Hospital in downtown Indianapolis for many years, but for the last three years she’s been at Putnam County Hospital.
“It’s not really for the faint of heart,” Barger said.
Barger was not sure what she wanted to do when she graduated high school. At the time, both of her grandparents were living with her and had terminal illnesses. She helped with their care.
When she attended college she started with general studies, eventually deciding nursing was the right path for her.
“I enjoy taking care of people so I just stuck with it,” Barger said.
For registered nurse Melissa Lehr, the path was a little different. She graduated from college with a liberal arts degree before deciding to change careers.
“A lot of people I worked with told me I should look into nursing. I’m glad I did, I love it,” Lehr, who works for Franciscan Health said.
Her co-worker, Debra Schafer also chose nursing later in life.
“I had been a stay-at-home mom and I was ready to get out and do something and I always helped others so it seemed natural,” Schafer said.
For nurses everywhere, the past year has come with some challenges.
“It’s all been challenging in the hospital, out of the hospital. Taking care of much sicker people who get sicker much quicker. Usually you can see people progressing one way or the other but COVID patients tend to get sicker quicker,” Barger explained.
Right now, there are also challenges of nursing shortages nationwide. One-third of registered nurses are expected to retire in the next decade, according to the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment.
The AAIHR also recently surveyed nurses nationwide. They found that 36% of registered nurses are experiencing burnout due the the pandemic, some are also considering leaving the profession. For reasons like this is why many nurses like Barger, Schafer and Lehr are trying to encourage people to look into nursing.
“You’re there for people when they need it,” Lehr said.
National Nurses Week is a perfect time to recognize those who have been on the front lines during the pandemic.
However these nurses said they don’t need the recognition, they enjoy their jobs and feel it’s a privilege to help others.
“Realizing that you had direct impact on someone’s life to make them better is well worth everything really,” Lehr said.