Oct 12, 2021, By: Ben Olsen, Wesley Shand
As I write this, my attention is divided while I also closely monitor the feeds and email for new information and updates. How many more cases today? Surgeries postponed? ICU admissions and deaths?
Stories of hope and resilience don’t capture the gravity or extent of the current situation. They seem misplaced considering that this is preventable, even reversible. Yet there is increasing indifference to and, worse, retaliation against the ones who have stepped up without judgment or shame, ready to serve. While the debate swirls about government actions (or lack thereof), the fact remains: health-care workers are growing tired of caring for those who chose to avoid a widely available vaccine. Canada’s nurses and doctors are on the verge of having nothing left to give.
We can’t expect health-care providers, or the system, to do all the work that needs to be done to reverse course. Citizens across the country have been organizing to lend a hand booking appointments, arranging travel and solving logistical problems since day one.
It’s time to pivot that support toward the communication front and change the conversation around vaccine hesitancy and resistance to public health measures that save lives and prevent system failures at every scale.
Our article last week on the role of nurse as influencer, How you can be a better advocate for vaccines and public health, has some practical guidance for crafting and delivering messages that don’t just resonate but motivate and provoke real action. We are all tired, and the deck is stacked in many ways. So this call is a simple one: If not you, then who? If not here, then where? If not now, then when?
Ben Olsen has a baccalaureate degree in nursing and 15 years’ experience in British Columbia and Alberta. He is affiliated with the University of Alberta and facilitates courses in communication and collaborative practice for students in nursing, medicine and other health disciplines His other role is with Alberta Health Services, where he manages a team that supports clinical workforce planning for nursing and other health disciplines in all sectors across the province.
Wesley Shand has been a full-time nurse practitioner at the Strathcona Community Hospital in Sherwood Park, Alberta, in the emergency department, IV clinic and emergency transition clinic for seven years. He has also spent two years facilitating a biweekly medical clinic at Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre. Prior to his work as a nurse practitioner, he was a bedside registered nurse for 10 years in several intensive care units, with the majority of time in the cardiovascular ICU at the University of Alberta/Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute.