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Letter: Nurse who organized protest outside hospital hurt people working in health care

A nurse should understand that we choose nursing because we care
Protestors in Vancouver, September 1, 2021

Dear Bob, the Editor-in-Chief,

Thank you for your recent coverage on the protest outside B.C. hospitals last week.

I went from being disheartened, exasperated, exhausted, to confounded when I learned that the organizer of the protest was a nurse.

I was going to use my nurse’s hat to calmly write to the protesters. I would set aside my assumptions and judgment that there is a knowledge deficit. I would begin with open ended questions: “I would love to better understand your feelings regarding the COVID vaccine”. I would engage in reflective listening: “Sounds like you have some reservations about the efficacy of vaccines.” I would then assess the protesters’ desire and ability to change.

The purpose of the conversation is not to forcefully convince protesters to abandon their existing beliefs or to prove my perspectives. The objectives are to present the sensitive matter through the many lenses of a prism rather than merely two sides of a coin. By introducing the idea that things do not necessarily have to be black or white. It is perfectly acceptable to have multiple shades of gray. Our world is complex hence there can be more than 2 solutions.

Once I have instilled a dose of complexity to the thorny matter, I would facilitate and encourage the protesters to express their doubts and empower them to be curious to explore some of the other shades of gray.

I would then conclude the conversation by showing my faith that the protesters would make the best choice for their bodies and our society. I don’t expect the protesters to change their viewpoints overnight. All I want to achieve is to plant a seed for them to stay open minded to various possibilities. I believe there is more common ground than we think. I am willing to bet that we would like to return to our ‘normal’ lives. 

I feel competent and confident to enter a heated conversation with humility and curiosity with protesters. But, I must confess that the organizer’s line of reasoning and initiative defeated me.

A nurse should understand that the immunocompromised cancer patients cannot afford to get infected and be exposed to a sea of maskless protesters. 
A nurse should understand every second matters for the patients who are having a stroke or heart attack when the protesters block the ambulances. 
A nurse should understand the sweats and bruised nose from wearing N95 for 12 hours.
A nurse should understand that we have our fear and tears yet we return shift after shift.
A nurse should understand how the health care teams have been indefatigably tending to patients and families.
Lastly, a nurse should understand that we choose nursing because we care!

Kristen Nagle, your imprudent actions are hurting us.

Bob, thank you for your coverage.