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Healthwatch 16: Inspiring a new generation of nurses

During the height of the pandemic, many nurses rose above the challenges, and now they are inspiring a new generation of nurses.

If you've worked in the medical field over the past year and a half, the pandemic has more than likely pushed you to the brink.

Janet Tomcavage is Geisinger's chief nursing officer. She says that in her 40 years of being a nurse, she's never experienced anything like COVID-19.

"It's required us to all kind of dig deep. You know, you're physically exhausted, you're emotionally exhausted, you don't know what your day may bring."

Nurses were always on the front lines during the coronavirus crisis. They cared for patients clinically, as well as comforted them.

"In COVID, I think nurses became the foundational kind of support. They were the family because the family couldn't come into the hospital," Tomcavage said.

Nurses were forced to rise and take on new challenges. But not all were able to handle it.

Last year, Geisinger saw some nursing students reconsider their careers in the medical field, but that may be changing.

"This year, what we found is almost this renewed energy to get back into nursing. Nursing schools have reported that enrollment is back up."

Lexi Mowery is a Geisinger employee and a nursing student. She starts classes in the fall.

"The unit that I work on, we're actually a COVID unit from November, and we still do receive COVID patients, and honestly, those were some of my best patients," Mowery said.

Geisinger believes people like Mowery are the future of nursing, so in Geisinger's nursing program, students are assigned a mentor to help and inspire them along their journey. If you've been doing this for as long as Tomcavage has, you know that there's nothing more rewarding than nursing.

"Helping that new baby come into life or helping the 100 year old who is taking their last breath and you're holding their hand, helping them and their family. I don't think there's any better job."