We caught up with Kimether Redmon (IG: @nursekimether), researcher-turned-registered nurse extraordinaire (and current graduate student!) from San Jose, who spoke to us about why she chose nursing as a second career, how nurses can — and should — prioritize their self-care at work, and how to ask for what they want.

 

On choosing nursing…

I am such a huge fan of nursing! When I worked as a public health researcher within a hospital system, I was blessed with the opportunity to see nurses in action. I chose to go into this profession because I am a total geek for all things related to the human body and because I am a hands-on person who knew that providing direct care would be much more fulfilling than just writing the research behind it. My public health and social science research background also aligned very well with the nursing care model which focuses on healing the entire person.

 

as a second career

I entered the nursing field with ten years of prior experience in another career, and that certainly had its perks. I came into nursing confident in who I was. I had all the nerves and fears just like every new grad RN but I was not timid, I had zero tolerance for bullying, and I was comfortable speaking up when I saw something wasn’t. That is what the profession needs: bold nurses informing care and advancing the profession, not just carrying out orders. I tell nursing students and new grads often, “take control of your professional development, know your value, and advocate for yourself and your profession. You don’t need years of experience to do this. Start on day one.”

 

On being inspired

As of late, I’ve been inspired by the nurses helping families to connect with their hospitalized loved ones over Facetime and Skype and who take the time to hang pictures of family and friends in their patients’ rooms and read cards. I am inspired by the nurses protesting nationwide to demand proper PPE for frontline workers. I am inspired by how nurses are supporting each other through these very trying times, how they are educating the public – the list goes on. I’m reminded every day of how blessed I am to be a part of this compassionate, knowledgeable community.

 

On how to cope during weird times

The Covid-19 pandemic is revealing a lot of what many nurses already knew: our healthcare system is not adequately prepared to deal with a novel infectious disease threat. Still, to see the repercussions of this shortcoming unfold before our eyes, day-after-day, is heavy on all our hearts and minds: the compassion fatigue, the fear, the moral distress, the guilt, and the very real pain of having to navigate all of this while also juggling the impact this pandemic is having on our personal lives and our families.

It took me a long time to learn that in order to provide exceptional patient care, we must have exceptional self-care. For me, it meant scheduling biweekly counseling sessions. It meant prioritizing my sleep and hydration. It meant reducing my work hours and moving to a different hospital when the joy of nursing was being stifled by hospital politics and disillusionment. It meant feeling worthy of taking a couple of sick days to work through grief and personal health issues. It meant teaching myself healthy coping mechanisms. It even meant taking a short break from bedside nursing altogether. Treating yourself exceptionally well may look different for you and that is okay! If you don’t know where to start, here are a few practical tips:

  1. Connect to support

Many counselors are offering virtual visits, so find one and schedule an appointment.

Find your safe ‘nurse people’ and connect with them regularly. There’s something special about venting to those who can relate to the struggle. Bolster each other’s spirits and let them know you care.

  1. Treat your body well

Eat nourishing foods, stretch your muscles, and stay hydrated. Since we never know what kind of workday may be in store for us, I’ve learned that the best way for me to nourish my body is to start the effort as soon as I wake up. Start the day well by drinking a full glass of water. Try also devoting the first 15-20 minutes of the day with sacred quiet time free of social media or worries about the pending work day. Once at work, TAKE YOUR BREAKS to eat, step outside for fresh air, stretch, cry, talk with a loved one, anything that will help you do a mini-reset before getting back to work. And for goodness sake, GO PEE!

 

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