Nurse, Assess Your Pulse

One recent morning, I found myself engulfed in a sea of clouded emotions. Was this pain, hurt, fear, remorse, trepidation, or anger? I could not hone in on it, but something was clearly weighing me down. I recognized that regardless of what it was, I must not entertain it.

I remembered that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV). Using that power and my sound mind, I began a self-assessment, consciously identifying and categorizing each sign and symptom and placing each in my Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan, Implementation, Evaluation (SOAPIE) format. 

I felt a little nervous; perhaps it was the White Coat Syndrome I discussed in class. Most will agree that we nurses can be “somewhat challenging” patients because we don’t particularly enjoy healthcare role reversal.

Nevertheless, remembering that we are to “cast all your anxieties on him [God], for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7, RSV), I continued to peel back my pent-up emotions. I heard in my spirit the words, “On the pulse of morning,” a line from a poem penned beautifully by Maya Angelou that she read at a presidential inauguration.

Commanding the busyness of my mind to cease and desist, I took time to find and read the poem. I thought this might help quarantine my internal abyss of emotions. The poem was “On the Pulse of Morning,” and the line which read, “You may stand upon my back and face your distant destiny, but seek no haven in my shadow” stood out to me. It was time for me to grab my pen, aim, and release. 

After a few moments of deep contemplation, I found my pulse, my voice. My life had been bombarded and inundated with class transition, Zoom fatigue, COVID-19 statistics, social distancing, and personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, followed by marches for justice. Each issue is important, but the human mind occasionally requires respite. I concluded that if I was experiencing this quandary, then so were my fellow nurses. I felt compelled to share two salient points.

First, amid the current social unrest and COVID-19 pandemic, nurses must assess their personal health status. We’ve poured out and given much. But where are we mentally, emotionally, and physically, as well as spiritually? We must know when it’s time to stand up and speak truth, but also know that in order to be effective, we need self-care.

Second, nurses should pace themselves, measure their pulse, take breaks, and seek nourishment for their own body, mind, and spirit. Yes, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14, NIV), but we must exercise self-care to maintain. 

As we witness social injustices, health disparities, and disease, we cannot allow bitterness and hatred to abound. As nurses, we measure pulses regularly to evaluate circulatory function. The strength and regularity of the pulse is an indication of the blood flow that impacts our individual strength. You and I need to check our own “love pulse” in a daily vital assessment and diagnose the condition of our hearts.

I encourage you to assess your pulse each morning to assure that your heart is strong enough to meet the demands of your day and profession.

Jennette S. Logan, DNP, RN, is an assistant professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, and a faith community nurse. 

This post is an excerpt of her Online Exclusive article in the current issue of the Journal of Christian Nursing (Oct/Dec 2020). NCF members have full access to JCN online—a valuable perk of membership.

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