Listen to nurses.

That's our innovation. And it will change everything.

About this project

Nurses are the most valuable players in the healthcare system. Their wisdom and dedication should serve as a constant reminder for what's possible in healthcare when we listen. 

This storytelling project is dedicated to honoring and celebrating the voices of the nursing community, because innovation in healthcare starts with listening to nurses.

We asked 10 nurses to share their stories with the healthcare and health tech communities to amplify what matters most: why they chose nursing, what empowers them as a nurse, and perhaps most importantly, their hopes for building the future of healthcare.

We hope you find their responses as inspiring as we do.

Yvonne F., RN

Listen to Yvonne F.'s story.

Yvonne F., RN

My name is Yvonne. I have been a nurse for 54 years, and I am still working. I started out as a candy striper in middle school, and I’ve been working ever since then. The longest time I’ve ever taken off was six months after having my first child.

There’s always going to be somebody sick. There’s always going to be someone to take care of, so I like the fact that I’m still part of that. There are very few people at my age who are even thinking about still doing nursing. Many left when the computers came in, never mind COVID. But you have the nurses who will, no matter what, take the time – and they may be there an extra 45 minutes to an hour – but they’ll take the time to go in and see those residents and find out what’s going on, and they’ll talk to a family member. There are a lot of families now involved, and they need that time.

We have to work together as a group in the building. Those family members need to know that their families are being taken care of – that their loved ones are being taken care of. That will never be lost from nursing. Do the same thing you would do here if you were caring for your own parents, your grandparents, your friends, or your friends’ parents. Give the same care that you would for the people you love.

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Morgan G., BSN, RN

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Morgan G., BSN, RN

My name’s Morgan. I’ve been a nurse – dear Lord – for 28 years. Nursing in itself is a craft. It’s more of a craft than a profession. When I am working with people and I’m understanding that everybody’s coming at things at a different level, and I’m trying to meet them where they are and meet their needs, that’s really when I feel like I’m doing my job the best. When I realize that I don’t have all the answers, and that they’re coming at this from one direction and I’m answering from another direction, and we have to somehow meet in the middle and make this work, that’s when I feel most empowered.

There was a patient who was dying of lung cancer and just gasping for breath, and there was no one else around. I called for people to come, but then I just went and held his hand and put my forehead right on top of his forehead because as a nursing student it’s all I knew to do. And I just said, “It’s okay. You’re not alone. It’s okay. You’re not alone.” Over, and over, and over again. And that meant a lot to his family.

Nurses tend to be wired differently, where when a patient is like that, it’s our job to sidle up to them and say, “Everything’s going to be alright. What can I do to help you?” These are the things that make nursing great, and these are the things I fell in love with about nursing. You learn from the most unexpected people and it makes you better, and then you move on.

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Lauren L., NP

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Lauren L., NP

My name is Lauren, and I’m a family nurse practitioner. For me, when I think of nursing and what nursing really means, sure, it’s being there in those bad moments and supporting and holding a hand or caring for somebody when they need it. But I think more so, or equally, we help empower our patients.

That could be just taking their anxiety and fear away, where we give them an explanation and put things in easier terms. We answer their questions. We take that time to give them the support they need. And I think most worries come from not knowing things and not having that knowledge.

In this day and age, we can share knowledge maybe easier than in the past. So then, it also is our job to guide our patients to find the right information and how to understand and process it.

I feel my role is to give them those tools, whether it’s a skill – something that they need to do, like change a wound or give themselves an IV – or it’s just educating them on a disease process. And I do feel like that part of nursing is what really empowers patients, not only in the moment we see them, but later down the road. They can feel more confident; they can understand things better and really take control of their own healthcare. I think that helps take away the fear and the anxiety. And they can also use that with the people they love and the people they’re caring for.

My mom said to me, when I first became a nurse, “Do what you love until you don’t love it anymore, and then get out.” I always take that as meaning, “Make sure you love your job, and that you’re still loving it, or else you shouldn’t do it.” I always think of that because when I have a bad day, I am like, “But do I love it?” And then I’m like, “Yeah, I do. I love it."

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Rebecca C., BSN, RN

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Rebecca C., BSN, RN

My name is Rebecca. I have been a nurse since 1995. My grandmother was a nurse. My mom and her sister and my cousin all became nurses. I’m blessed to be a labor and delivery nurse. I kind of always knew that’s what I wanted to do with my psych background. I did start off in pediatric psych. I was a cardiac step down nurse in a big hospital in Providence for four or five years, and then I did some adult psych until I could get into a labor and delivery unit. Now I’ve been there for 21 years, and I’m never leaving.

Community is important to me as a nurse because you’re not just taking care of these patients for the two or three days that you have them. Especially in labor and delivery, we are looking at the whole family unit. Obviously, they come in to us, they have the babies, and then there’s a whole bunch of community support afterwards.

The community I’m in is Newport, where they run a nationwide Labrador rescue. I started working with them 13 years ago, I became the vice president 12 years ago, and I’ve been the president for a couple years now. Oftentimes I’ll come into work and someone will say, “Okay, you’re going to take the labor in 703,” and I walk into room 703 and the mother says, “Oh, Rebecca. Oh my God. We just love you. Thank you so much for our baby.” And if they don’t actually have human children or a Labrador with them, I’m not really sure which I’ve provided them with, so I just wait and see. If they say he’s in third grade now, then I know it’s a baby I delivered seven years ago.

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Emily M.,BSN, RN

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Emily M., BSN, RN

My name’s Emily. I’ve been a nurse for seven years now. I think nurses need to be appreciated more for all the work we do. Sometimes, we feel like we’re doing so much, but we’re not appreciated by the healthcare industry. Definitely, our patients are very thankful, but I think the healthcare industry could do a little bit more to show their gratitude.

Just yesterday, this little eight-year-old boy actually fell and hit concrete; he hit his nose, and he hit his forehead. I did a whole neuro assessment, and I saw that he was doing well, but he was feeling dizzy. He was slouching over, and he wasn’t communicating well anymore. It looked like he was about to pass out. In a second, it can just switch over to like, “Hey, I’m communicating with you,” and then suddenly it’s severe, like, “We need to call your parents and have them pick you up.” He was very quiet at that moment, so it was just scary for him and me, and I was worrying so much.

But today, I saw him at the school, and he was a whole different person. He was like, “I feel so much better!” You know, the gratitude that we receive as nurses, it really touches your heart, knowing that you did everything you could at that moment.

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Samantha B., PhD, RN

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Samantha B., PhD, RN

My name is Sam. I am a registered nurse at Mass General Hospital, and I work on the postpartum unit. I don’t want bad stuff to happen to people, but if it happens, I want to be there. I really enjoy that. I’m really good at staying calm and staying focused and being reassuring.

There was a patient I took care of a few years ago who had possibly developed preeclampsia at the end of her pregnancy, and preeclampsia is something I have a lot of expertise about. We had taken care of her over and over again. She was in and out of the hospital a lot during the last two months of her pregnancy. I was always on when she came in, so we just developed this relationship. And when she finally came in and was giving birth, I was so happy that I was there and knew her family so well. And then it looked like maybe that baby was going to be born after my shift, and I was like, “Oh, I’m not leaving.” I don’t usually stay late. I’m not that kind of nurse. I’m more like a punch out: “I did my share. Now I’ve passed it off to the rest of my team. That’s my share of it.”

But I could not leave. I couldn’t just leave and not see this thing through to the end. And so the baby was born, and it was just amazing. It was only an hour and a half past my shift, and it had been snowing all day. All day. And I was like, “Oh my. I’m going to go clear off my car.” I was just trying to get my head around a 12-hour shift, plus an extra hour and a half, and so I went out to my car, and some of my nurse coworkers had cleaned off my car before they left.

It was this great feeling of being there for this family – being so with them and staying until the end – and then also knowing that I had this great team who had my back. And they had cleaned off my car. Who wants to clear off somebody else’s car? No one wants to do that. When you finally finish your shift, you’re just like, “Get me home. Get me out. I’m done.” So it was this combination of all the things about the family and the birth, and also having teammates.

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Michelle W., BSN, RN

Listen to Michelle W.'s story.

Michelle W., BSN, RN

My name is Michelle. I’m a certified addictions nurse. My love of social justice really sparked in high school, and it was my parents who pointed out that being a nurse would be a really great, concrete way of working for social justice goals.

My patients are chaotic. They are unhoused. I work specifically with people who are homeless or transitioning into having homes, and so I spend a lot of time in the community.

Whoever you’re trying to serve sets the goals. So, in our case, we’re serving the patients, so the patients have to set the goals. If you’re trying to serve your nursing staff, then you need to listen to your nursing staff. If I approach a random stranger on the street and I ask, “What do you need from me?” -- What he might actually need is help getting on the housing voucher list. But he just met me. He doesn’t know I can do that for him. So, he might actually just say, “$5. I’m hungry.” And it’s only once you build that trust relationship that you can get down to what people actually need.

So, I think administrators think they’re listening to nursing staff, and the nursing staff says things like, “We need better break coverage. We need better vacation policies. We need mental health days. We need more time off.” And administration hears, “You’re burned out. Let’s get you a pizza party, and we’ll do chair massages at the next Nurse Appreciation Day.” But that’s not what you need. And then people don’t feel like they can ask for what they really do need.

There’s always a new direction we can move towards a positive change, and we can celebrate even really tiny victories. This keeps hope alive even when things are pretty bleak.

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Kathy N., MSN, RN

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Kathy N., MSN, RN

My name is Kathy. I work in the operating room as a circulating nurse. I’ve been practicing as a nurse, though, for 13 years now, and I’ve worked in all different types of fields. Honestly, what I wish I had known back in nursing school was that there are so many different things you can do with your nursing license. You don’t have to go to the hospital. You can work in a rehab. You can do anesthetics. You can do the operating room. The world is your oyster. There are so many things that you can do. Don’t let anyone take away your pride about what type of nursing you decide to do because it’s not a one-size-fits-all type career.

My husband was diagnosed with kidney failure and got super sick. My little one – she’s now a preschooler – she got diagnosed with autism. Between the both of them – dialysis, appointments, services – there was a lot for me to take on, and I used to be that nurse you could count on to pick up an extra shift or stay an extra hour, and if I got mandated, I would just take it with a smile. But as I’ve gotten older and as my family has grown, my needs have changed.

“No” is one sentence. It’s a full sentence. You don’t have to explain yourself. It’s okay to set boundaries. This year, actually, I took my first family leave besides maternity leave. I had to. At the end of the day, I needed it, and I know I’m in the right place because my job was nothing but supportive over it. They didn’t make me feel any guilt. They were just like, “Take what you need. I’m glad that you were able to step up and advocate for yourself.” So I am – it’s recent – but I am learning how to find my voice and really speak for what I need.

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Julika W., MS, RN

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Julika W., MS, RN

My name is Julika. I’m a registered nurse on a cardiac ICU at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. I started working in March of 2020. My first day was March 9th, and I think March 10th was the start of the COVID pandemic lockdown. So, I always joke that COVID and I started nursing together. I was a marine biologist for about 17 years before I decided that I wanted to change my career and become a nurse.

I was in the field of marine mammal and sea turtle medicine because I worked in rescue and rehabilitation, but it’s really the human body that has always fascinated me. I used to love reading books written by doctors and nurses. So I finally just decided to leave my career as a marine biologist and go back to school. It was very interesting and now here we are, still in the pandemic, but hopefully at the end of it, or at least the down slope.

I am a little bit of a geek. You know, I love learning, and I love just getting to know and learn new things. We have learned so much through this pandemic. We’ve learned how to manage people that have chronic or acute – meaning, sudden – respiratory diseases, because COVID affects our respiratory system primarily. And so I feel like working with the intensivists on our ICUs and seeing them manage the patients on ventilators – it was just so fascinating to me. I’ve learned so much. I don’t think I’ve even been able to comprehend fully that I’ve been in this pandemic, because I’ve just been so fascinated by everything I have been learning.

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Cherize S.,BSN, RN

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Cherize S., BSN, RN

My name’s Cherize, and I’m a registered nurse. I work as a Hospice nurse. It’s a whole different aspect of nursing because people think that nurses help take care of people and get them better, but here I am helping my patient die. I want them to be at peace and not suffer, to not be in any pain.

Coming from a family with a lot of healthcare workers, I decided to not take the route of being a doctor. Clearly, healthcare is a very prestigious career, although in other parts of the world, nursing is not seen like that. I am very grateful, and being a nurse has taught me a lot. I love it. I’m so grateful to be a nurse, and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I make a connection with all my patients, each and every one of them, whether it’s talking about their day, or whether they have pain. Sometimes people just need a, “Hey, how are you doing?

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About connectRN

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