When nurse Janice Mullings-George won nurse of the year in 2019, she had no idea that she would hold onto that title for over two years due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“ The quote ‘ nurses are the heartbeat of healthcare: stronger together’ was definitely echoed throughout my [unorthodox] reign as nurse of the year,” she said. “This pandemic has made us stronger, and we will continue to collaborate . . . so that we can help people within the community have excellent healthcare.”
If Bermudian healthcare workers had to confront the COVID-19 pandemic all over again, Ms. Mullings-George thinks that they would be a little more prepared and have more things in place.
“ Hopefully we will never see a pandemic in our lifetime again, but I think that making sure that we put the strategies together, keep things in place, work together and continue to communicate would be the only way that we could do it,” she said.
Despite passing her Nurse of the Year baton to another nurse this afternoon, Ms. Mullings-George will continue to regularly communicate with the nurses and to promote self-care among the staff.
“ It is not only the physical work as a nurse, but we also have to care for and think about each other,” she said. “The most important thing is to love one another and to continue to do our best to keep good healthcare going.”
Taking Ms. Mullings-George’s baton and being named this year’s Nurse of the Year is Carrie Grant-Simmons, who is truly humbled and thrilled to receive the honor.
“ Nursing is my passion, my calling and my life,” Ms. Grant-Simmons said. “ I have received awards from every nursing program that I have been in . . . because no matter where I work, I give it my best effort.”
Even though she acknowledges that the job might be thankless sometimes, Ms. Grant-Simmons does not think that any nurse goes into the field to get a ton of recognition or praise, but to better the lives of patients and their families.
“ In grade school, I would always be the first one to take the students to the sick bay, never knowing that I was being observed. During my graduation, I received an award for responsibility and helpfulness,” she said. “ When I went to nursing school, I received another award for outstanding clinical performance in medical nursing.”
Ms. Grant-Simmons also won awards for her participation in the post-basic psychiatric nursing program, the intensive care program and the mental health practitioner program and also
received a post-graduate diploma in human resource management, in which she was the class’ top performer and valedictorian.
“ [These past few months] were truly a challenge [for nurses], because they were quite fearful not knowing much about the pandemic,” she said. “ I think that nurses are more knowledgeable and confident now, but we are still there to provide emotional support.”
Ms. Grant-Simmons has seen how effective the COVID vaccine has been in decreasing transmission of, and hospitalizations and death as a result of, the virus. Thus, she encourages everyone to get vaccinated if they have not already if they want to return to some form of normalcy.
She also encourages everyone considering becoming a nurse to go for it; it is a truly rewarding profession.
“ There is a shortage of nurses everywhere, so you will never be out of a job,” she said. “If you like to assist other people, then this is the perfect job.”
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