3 Incredible Real & Tales Of Nurse Bravery
Nurses deal with challenges on a daily basis. Whether it’s making a risky decision that could help a patient come back from death’s door, or questioning the decisions of physicians and team leaders, nurses need to be courageous sometimes.
These real stories of nurse bravery demonstrate the tenacity, courage, and unrelenting dedication to patient care that are common traits among top tier nursing professionals. Some are recent, while others are historical, but they all demonstrate exceptional moral courage.
Two West Texas Nurses Blow the Whistle
Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Gale were RNs working at a hospital in western Texas in 2009, in the small town of Kermit. The two began to notice that one of the physicians, Dr. Rolando G. Arafiles, Jr., was displaying some unusual patterns in his behavior and practice decisions. They noticed him giving out prescriptions that didn’t seem appropriate, as well as engaging in inappropriate surgical procedures. For example, he performed a failed skin graft in the emergency room without any appropriate medical privileges.
Concerned about D.r Arafiles’s behavior, Mitchell and Gale wrote a letter of complaint to the Texas Medical Board. They did this as a last resort, because both nurses had already complained to the hospital’s management.
The Texas Medical Board notified the physician. It didn’t help that in the postage stamp town where everyone knows everyone, Dr. Arafiles was close friends with the local sheriff. The two nurses were arrested and threatened with ten years in jail for “disseminating confidential information.” Although the charges against Gale were later dropped, those against Mitchell were pursued further.
Fortunately, the Texas Medical Board found out what was happening. Numerous nurses, physicians, and healthcare administrators stood up in support of the two nurses. It was found that laws in Texas did permit administrative nurses to report a physician if they felt that the patients were at risk.
When the case went to trial, Mitchell was found “not guilty” by the court. Mitchell and Gale then fought back with a lawsuit against the hospital in federal court, contending that they had been subjected to malicious prosecution that was in violation of Texas whistleblower laws.
Eventually, the lawsuit was settled out of court.
Fighting One of the World’s Most Deadly Diseases
Tuberculosis is an airborne disease, and even today, it’s extremely deadly. While TB is a rare occurrence today, it reached epidemic levels among urban populations during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In that era, tuberculosis patients were quarantined in sanatoriums, creating an environment full of the deadly bacteria. In America, there were over 600 tuberculosis sanatoriums until as recently as 1950.
Many nurses braved the risks of infection to treat these tuberculosis patients with what remedies were available at the time. Tuberculosis is airborne, so anyone treating these populations was at risk of contracting it. Plus, there was no known cure at the time. Nursing staff members often lived on the grounds of the sanatoriums, putting them at even more risk of contraction.
The superintendent of Wallum Lake, an East Coast sanatorium, instructed his nursing staff to have regular hours, eat regular meals, and get plenty of rest. Those were the only tactics for TB management and prevention. Despite these precautions, many nurses did contract the disease and became sick. Many of them died.
These brave nurses, many of them nameless and unremembered, took the risk of contracting tuberculosis themselves in order to provide medical care to infected patients. Many of them died in the process.
Irena Sendler: A 1930s Nurse Who Saved Over 2,500 Children from the Nazis
Irena Sendler was a Polish nurse and humanitarian worker. Originally a social worker, Sendler obtained nursing certifications so that she could sneak medicine and food into Polish ghettos, which had been created by the Nazis to segregate Jews after their successful invasion of Poland.
She was able to save an estimated 2,500 children during her time working in Nazi-occupied Poland. These children were medically sedated and snuck out in potato sacks and toolboxes, send through a resistance network to Christian orphanages where they could be given new identities and escape the ongoing Holocaust. Sendler was eventually captured and imprisoned by the Nazis from 1948 to 1949. After the war, she lived the rest of her life in Warsaw, where she was active with the Polish communist movement.
In 2007, Irena Sendler was actually nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, although she lost to Al Gore.
Brave Nurses of the Past and Present
Nursing is an occupation with a long and illustrious history, and over the centuries, many nurses have shown incredible bravery and courage. From Irena Sendler braving Nazi interrogation to save children from the Holocaust to two RNs in West Texas standing up to a corrupt local establishment, many nurses have made massive sacrifices in the name of moral good.