By Laci Sutton / Opinion Page Editor

The medical field is one of the most mentally and physically taxing fields someone can work in. The past year and a half brought a new sense of appreciation to providers.

Us nurses were named healthcare heroes. Our careers were evolving before our eyes and arguably more dangerous than ever before. Respect for the medical field was at an all-time high, and rightfully so. 2020 was even named the year of the nurse.

These individuals were not only navigating changes in the workplace but also dealing with life as we all knew it fading into a nightmare.

Many facilities began offering “hazard pay” as a way to compensate for the indescribable work environments. While this was much appreciated, it will never begin to heal the trauma medical professionals have gone through.

Caregivers are working unimaginable hours, normal hospital rooms have been turned into intensive care units, and parking lots have been turned into mobile testing sites.

COVID is ramping back up, but the appreciation we had for the healthcare providers seems to be going in the opposite direction.

Our providers are exhausted. They are underappreciated and experiencing severe burn out, which is putting us into an even worse crisis. For the last week, I’ve seen countless news stories about hospitals reaching capacity and turning patients away.

As an aspiring nurse, this is honestly terrifying, but I can’t blame the professionals for wanting to leave this career path. In fact, I applaud them for finally putting themselves first and understanding their boundaries.

However, I know I got into this field to make a difference. I chose nursing because I wanted to help people. (I know that sounds so clichè, but that’s the only way I know how to put it into words.) My heart breaks knowing that they have been pushed so hard that they had no other option but to leave the career altogether.

Healthcare professionals deserve the same energy we gave them in 2020 all the time. It’s time we all step up and start showing more gratitude for the ones who care for us when we aren’t able to care for ourselves.

Start with a simple thank you next time you speak with a medical professional. It’s tiny, but it’s a step in the right direction.

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