Insights from Emma Barrentine

Submitted 2021-10-05

“Emma how many times do I have to remind you, sleep is a necessary part of your health as well!” my professor said to me as I began to zone out during my anatomy lab. My teacher noticed my exhaustion from staying up too late to study, yet again. He went on to talk to the whole class about the importance of not just getting a good night sleep, but also the importance of drinking enough fluids, eating a well-balanced diet, and doing some physical activity every day. As health majors, he emphasized the importance of keeping ourselves healthy so that when we enter into the medical field, we can offer the best medical care to our patients. The advice he gave during this lecture is an important value to help me mentally and physically in my future career where I will be providing basic life support to neonates.

Many healthcare workers provide life saving techniques and basic life support to their patient’s daily. That is the thing that drives us - helping others and saving lives. It is vital that healthcare workers prepare themselves both physically and mentally for the momentous and essential task of saving lives. They can do this by practicing self-care, ensuring their certifications are up-to-date and making their mental health a priority.

Self-care is a key aspect of having a successful and beneficial career as a healthcare provider. While healthcare can be an extremely rewarding career, it is also an extremely stressful career. These are two of the reasons why healthcare workers need to focus on keeping themselves physically well. This includes getting adequate sleep nightly, drinkly plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and eating a healthy and balanced diet. This will ensure that one is in peak condition when they are tasked with saving lives. Mistakes can happen easily when a healthcare worker is suffering from lack of sleep and poor health due to lifestyle habits which can significantly impact outcomes.

Not only is physical self-care important, but mental self-care is just as important. Working in the healthcare field can become exhausting and stressful and there may be times when the outcomes are not always as expected. It is important that we realize when we need to take a step back to breathe, relax, and calm down. Deep breathing, taking moments to have silence, and having a support system to talk to is vital to maintain proper mental health. Healthcare workers should be educated on and aware of signs of burnout, depression, and anxiety and access resources and therapy when needed. This will ensure that health professionals are able to work through the challenges of their careers and offer the best life-saving care to their patients. We sometimes forget the importance of seeking help when needed and if we do pursue help when necessary, we can ultimately help ourselves while also ensuring we can properly help others by being mentally and physically healthy at the same time.

Besides self-care, there are other ways that healthcare workers who are providing life-saving techniques can prepare themselves. Health care professionals should ensure their certifications are up-to-date so they can continue working in their field but also to guarantee that they are providing the most reliable, evidence-based care possible and to keep their skills fresh. This will also help build confidence in one’s ability to provide life-saving care and help mentally prepare for each situation that arises. Situations, where health professionals are required to provide life-saving techniques, can be extremely stressful, and it’s of utmost importance to remain clear and calm when accessing the situation and providing care.

All these specific health care habits will be extremely useful in pursuing a career as a neonatal nurse practitioner at Shawn Jenkins’ Children Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. During my sophomore year of high school, my English teacher wanted us to research future career options after she handed us the results of our class career assessments. As I was doing my research, I came across a picture of a nurse in scrubs, leaned over an isolette with an Ambu bag, attempting to save the life of a premature baby. After seeing this image, I knew this career was the future for me. These hard-working nurses spend days and nights working to ensure these sweet, tiny babies are being kept alive and make it their mission to ensure the best possible care for their patients and the patient’s family as well. Their drive and love of their jobs inspire me and encourage me to work hard to my goal of working as one of them one day.

Emil Brunner once said, “what oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.” This quote highlights the importance of physical and mental health when providing life-saving care to patients. We forget sometimes how important it is to slow down life and take a deep breath or several, before continuing on with our day. If we normalize the importance of self-care, we can also encourage the importance of maintaining a healthy mental and physical well-being. Health is such an important value, as healthcare providers, we must ensure that we not only provide the best care for our patients but also the best personal care for ourselves as well.