Be Your Own Nurse

Amy E. Rettig, DNP, MALM, RN, APRN-BC


Am Nurs Journal. 2021;16(12) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Nursing practice in the United States is predominantly patient- and family-centered, no matter the care setting, and we're accustomed to having the resources we need, even when faced with rapid practice changes. COVID-19 has changed that. Hundreds of thousands of people have gotten sick, including our colleagues, our own families, and ourselves. Because the virus doesn't have a clear trajectory, we shifted quickly from a patient-centric to a public health focus (the most good for the most people), but resources have been compromised, including supply lines and logistic, jobs, schools, the economy, and leadership at all levels.

This lack of resources and the necessary isolation required to protect each other during the pandemic has created distress (extreme anxiety, sorrow, and pain), which if not addressed can lead to burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary traumatic stress. Ultimately, these effects can result in nursing practice issues and moral distress (stress associated with being prevented from doing what we believe is right), which can cause nurses to leave the profession. Ongoing stress can lead to physical harm and disease.

To regain a sense of normalcy and mitigate the effects of the stress nurses experience every day, we must learn how to self-nurse—care for ourselves in mind, body, and spirit.