Irish on the Front Lines

The Connection Magazine Feature Story: Irish on the Front Lines

Throughout the pandemic, STVM alumni have been working tirelessly on the front lines of the medical field. From doctors and nurses to medics and mental health professionals, our alums open up to share their experiences with our school community. The STVM family thanks them for continuing to show up every day as they help in the fight against COVID-19. 

Names are listed in alphabetical order.

COLBEY COOMBS VM14
Registered Nurse
UC Health West Chester Hospital

Check out FOX 19's story on Colbey

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

I have known for a long time that I wanted a career that focuses on serving others. I also wanted a career where I would constantly be challenged. I have always been drawn to the culture of nursing. Not only are nurses educated on all aspects of caring for a human life; they have the privilege of caring for individuals during their most vulnerable time, acting not only as a "healer" but also a companion. I tell people that it is the perfect combination of compassion and complexity for me.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

My time at STVM helped make the thoughts I always had into goals. The culture at STVM is full of positivity and unity. I felt welcomed even before my first day of school. Everybody truly wants to see you succeed. I had a lot of doubts in my abilities on the academic side. My sophomore year, I met Mr. Naman Al-Niemi in Physical Science class. I learned very quickly that I was capable. Mr. Al-Niemi would emphasize the importance of working hard. He would say affirmations such as, "YOU have the power to work hard and get yourself where you want to be. Even if you fail, guess what? If you know you truly worked hard, then it's okay." I did a lot of cognitive restructuring that year, and that set the framework especially for how I approached my journey to become a nurse. I also had a lot of support from Mrs. Merrylou Windhorst and all of our time spent in Health classes and Future Medics.

What has been the biggest challenge at your job during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The biggest challenge for me has been the uncertainty in this pandemic. I finished nursing school in December of 2019. Before I even finished orientation, we had started to wear our masks and gear (PPE) as there were cases. We all were preparing for the worst. I work on the ICU and Stepdown critical care floor at my hospital. I was the only new grad nurse. I was the youngest. The overall uncertainty--- uncertainty with being a nurse and uncertainty with this pandemic was a feeling that I will never forget.

ALLISON COUGHLIN VM15
Registered Nurse
Cleveland Clinic Main Campus

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

I chose nursing because of the endless career paths offered. I always knew I wanted to help people. Nursing challenges me every day, and allows me to impact people’s lives in so many ways. There’s never a dull moment in the nursing world, and I learn something new every day. I plan on continuing my nursing career with a master’s degree in the near future.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

Emily Boarman heavily impacted my decision to go into nursing! She helped me with my senior capstone project, where I shadowed her sister, Lauren, who is also a nurse. I absolutely fell in love with the job and ended up picking nursing as my undergraduate major soon after!

What has been the biggest challenge at your job during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The biggest challenge of my job during the pandemic, despite the long twelve hour shifts in PPE, is the strict visitation policy that hospitals have in place. As an intensive care unit nurse, I typically see patients at their sickest. Patients typically are only allowed to have one visitor. It’s incredibly difficult to help families navigate the care of their loved ones from a distance.

LANDON DAVIS VM10
Prosthetist-Orthotist
Shirley Ryan Abilitylab

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

I was raised to be a kind and compassionate person. I've always wanted to use my strengths to help people.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

STVM reinforced concepts of giving back, community service, and compassion which only further cemented my desire to help those in need.

What has been the biggest challenge at your job during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Battling misconceptions about doubts about the seriousness of COVID-19. I have worked with people who have literally had their limbs amputated as a result of this disease. Please listen to your healthcare professionals and wear a mask!

ASHLEY SMITH GREGORY VM12
Licensed Professional Counselor and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant and Coordinator
CommQuest Services Inc.

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

I chose a career in the medical field because I wanted to help others who struggle with life's difficulties. I have always felt strongly about being an active advocate and wanted to contribute to breaking the stigma against mental health. Seeing client overcome challenges in their counseling experience reaffirms that I chose the right career and that I am making a difference in their lives.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

Learning about various occupations and careers during my time at STVM helped impact my decision to work in the medical field.

What has been the biggest challenge at your job during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The biggest challenge is transitioning from face-to-face sessions to telehealth sessions. Although I am grateful to still be able to talk to my clients, it is still a challenge. Being able to see clients in person can be both impactful and beneficial for then due to the innate environment.

JON HLIVKO VM97
Gastroenterologist
Aultman Alliance Community Hospital

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

We have all been affected by an illness either to ourselves or a family member. I decided that I wanted to try and help people by either preventing an illness (e.g., colon cancer via colonoscopy) or try to alleviate symptoms of their illness. I have always enjoyed science and research which play an important role in how we treat various ailments and help to change the future of medicine as we have seen with the vaccine for the corona virus.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

The education I received from STVM in science, math, and health laid the groundwork for my medical education. The teachers in each of these fields were able to find a way to communicate these subjects that began to place the building blocks to allow me to excel in my college and medical school classes. They challenged me intellectually and instilled a strong work ethic which has allowed me to succeed in the medical field.

What has been the biggest challenge at your job during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Much of my job involves elective procedures (i.e., colonoscopy and EGD) and seeing patients in the office. In the beginning of the pandemic all elective procedures were cancelled. One of the biggest challenges was that when elective procedures were allowed again, we had to make a number of changes to keep patients and the endoscopy staff/nurses all safe and try to prevent anyone getting the virus. Also, in the beginning of the pandemic patients were not allowed into the offices so we had to find a way to continue to try and help patients and so we set up Telehealth visits.

MARIHELYN HORRIGAN VM86
Community Impact Manager
AxessPointe Community Health

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

I am not sure I chose the medical field, but the medical field chose me. I did not finish college on the traditional track. I enjoyed college my early years a little too much and was redirected to take some time off. Those were some fun years. I went on to different jobs from a grocery clerk to DiFeo's poultry to a daycare worker. I could write a sappy story of how I wanted to make a difference and have different opportunities but that would be very misleading.  I wanted a secure job, with decent pay and an opportunity to be home with my children. The three 12 hour days were a huge attraction to me. I started nursing school and did well in my core classes and then started my clinicals. My first clinical day was one of the best days of my life. That day was the day that I was chosen by the medical field. I had never been so comfortable as I was caring for another individual. The level of satisfaction it left me with at the end of the day could not be measured, not even monetarily. So when someone asks me why I chose nursing, I can say that I didn't...it chose me.   

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

I look back at my time at STVM and I didn't realize how much those very short years prepared me for a career in nursing. From Sr. Benita not allowing us to say goodbye at the end of a class and instead always ending with a "see ya later," to Mr. Klotz's terrible jokes. Looking back, they were honestly funny because those jokes taught us to not take ourselves too seriously. Mrs. Dunn always practical advice in home economics and lastly Mrs. Longville was always so gentle and loving, bringing her students to the student center to have lunch with the rest of the students. Teaching us we all are one and to treat each other with love and respect. To this day, I never leave a patient with a goodbye, it's always "I'll see ya later." I most certainly never take myself too seriously...if I did, I would go mad. I am always practical and still when caring for an individual. Last but not least, we all are one in God's eyes and should always be treated as such.

What has been the biggest challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic?

To watch the devastation this disease can do to a family. I work in a community outreach setting. I have been tasked to be one of the nurses at our clinic to administer the COVID-19 testing. With each test you give, it's imperative you greet each patient is as if you have known them all their life. When you do this you see the fear subside even it is for a short period. As an outreach impact manager, it's important to think of practical, smart ways to assist patients to overcome barriers to social determinants of health. An example would be when a patient tests positive, odds are the entire family could be positive. They are unable to get food or diapers due to needing to quarantine. At AxessPointe we are blessed through community grants to have a food pantry and personal hygiene closet. So, I would deliver food and diapers and drop them on the front porch. This pandemic has caused individuals with addictions to tailspin due to the solitude of being alone. It's your job as a nurse to follow up on their mental health. It's about having a steady hand and a strong voice. I have had to be patient's advocates when otherwise they have none. It is drawing on who you have become and using those moral building blocks that have been cemented in my soul for those  four years of a time in my life at the school high atop a hill in Akron!

MATT CARLSON VM15
Firefighter/Medic
University Fire - Fairbanks, Alaska

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

I always knew that I would end up working in the medical field.  I can almost fully attribute that to being raised by a nurse and seeing my mom's innate ability to show compassion toward others.  It's inspiring to see someone give so selflessly and be with a patient on their worst of days; especially during a pandemic.  I ended up in the Fire/EMS world for the opportunity to serve my community and try to follow in my mom's footsteps.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

I really enjoyed my science classes at STVM; especially AP Biology with Mrs. Miller.  My favorite memory was dissecting pigs with Taylor Ceepo and the Misbreners.  I think that class really created a love of medicine and science in all of us.

What has been the biggest challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The biggest challenge for me has been seeing the secondary effects; those that aren't necessarily diagnosed with COVID-19.  Many patients are terrified to go to hospital and risk exposure, which results in delayed treatment for other medical issues.  I've seen patients wait three days to call 911 while having a heart attack because they were afraid of contracting COVID-19 at the hospital.  In addition, suicide and depression rates have been increasing because the pandemic has caused a lot of isolation/job insecurities/mental health crises.  It's tough to see so many people affected by COVID-19, whether contracting the virus or suffering the ripple effects. Overall, being a first responder during a pandemic has been very difficult, but I'm thankful I'm in a position to where I can serve my community.

PATTY CARLSON VM85
Registered Nurse
Summa Health System

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

I wanted to do something for my career that was challenging and interesting. I wanted to make a difference in people's lives. I have an older sister and an Aunt that are nurses and I was always interested in their careers. I loved listening to my sister talk about her job.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field

I remember that we had to have a career shadow day. I shadowed my sister at the Brecksville VA hospital. It was eye opening for a 17-year-old but I loved every minute of it.

What has been the biggest challenge at your job during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I want to say the biggest challenge of Covid-19 is wearing an N95 for my entire shift but the biggest challenge is not knowing if this will ever end. I have been lucky this time as I have not been deployed from my department. I work in Same Day Surgery and am not on the front lines. I do not work with diagnosed Covid-19 patients. But I wanted to help so I contacted our float pool and have started to work extra shifts administering the Covid-19 vaccination. I went into nursing to make a difference in people's lives and I believe administering this vaccine is the difference I am making to help the spread of COVID-19.

KATIE PAMER VM13
Pediatric Registered Nurse - Care Coordinator
University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Childrens

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

I loved the idea of really making a difference and being there for people when they’re feeling most vulnerable.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

In a way, every experience at STVM helped shape who I am as a person and ultimately led me to my current career. In particular, however, my Family Studies class senior year reaffirmed my love for children and helped guide my decision in becoming a pediatric nurse.

What has been the biggest challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I work in our hospital’s Cystic Fibrosis Center, so our patient population is one that needs to be very careful to avoid infection. For this reason, social distancing and donning proper PPE were both used by our patients, families, and care team prior to the pandemic. The biggest challenge of my job has been working with our interdisciplinary team to come up with innovative ways to maintain our patients’ health, without them coming in for their frequent lung tests and check-ups in attempt to avoid unnecessary exposure.

ALEX PIGLIA VM08
Medical Laboratory Scientist
Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

The main reason I chose the medical field was because I wanted to help people. The other reasons were I do not like wearing business attire and I knew I wouldn't enjoy the typical nine-to-five job at a desk.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

Starting my sophomore year, I joined the Sports Medicine program at STVM, which opened a door into the medical field. I really enjoyed learning how to tape ankles and wrists, take care of athletes and learning from B Knight (STVM Athletic Trainer). This made me think that I would enjoy some sort of career in the medical field, so I started researching majors and visiting colleges.  I went to Walsh University and graduated with a degree in Clinical Laboratory Science.  After graduating, I attended the Cooperative Medical Technology Program of Akron to get my certification as a Medical Laboratory Scientist. I'm over six years into this field and love it.

What has been the biggest challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic?

There have been several major challenges the lab faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic first started, we didn't have the testing available. This was frustrating because the doctors wanted answers and we were unable to provide them due the lack of available testing. Once testing was available, we had a limited supply of testing material. This meant that we had to prioritize what would be tested at our hospital with what should be sent to Cleveland Clinic's lab.  Eventually, we were able to get enough testing material to be able to run more tests at our lab without having to send as many specimens to main campus.  This helped give a better turn-around-time for patient results, but the demand for testing was and still is very high.  We don't have enough lab personnel for testing compared to the number of tests being sent to the lab, and this still remains a problem. The shortage of lab personnel has been a struggle because not enough people are going into this field most likely due to the lack of knowledge that this field exists and we are responsible for 70% of all medical decisions.

TROY PORTIS VM06
Registered Nurse
Summa Akron City Hospital

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

I chose a career in the medical field because I wanted to be a vessel of God and to do His work and serve those most in need. I felt called to help those who are vulnerable in our community. I wanted to choose a career that I could feel proud of because of the positive difference I can try to make in people’s lives. I feel it is a true honor to serve others and I am thankful for the opportunity to do so. I have the opportunity as a nurse to be a servant leader that allows me to explore ways that I can become a better man. I grew up in Akron and it is important to me to work for an organization that supports the community that brought me up to be the person that I am.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

My time at STVM has shown me the importance of a community atmosphere. I felt supported and encouraged by those at STVM to explore what would help me grow most as a man. The faculty continuously demonstrated love and professionalism. I felt like the faculty and community at STVM allowed me to feel secure, recognized, and comforted. I wanted to be able to provide those same experiences for those I’d encounter in my life as a medical professional. I am thankful for the community of faith and the relationships I formed. Specifically, Mrs. Dolan stands out as someone who always went above and beyond to remind me to keep pressing on and push through whatever obstacles I was facing. She believed in, supported, and gave me the incentive to keep trying to reach my goals. Mrs. Anderson also showed me a great deal of support. She saw me for the young man that I was and helped me overcome many of the obstacles that young men go through. I faced some challenging times personally during the time I was at STVM, and I am thankful for the teachers who dug deeper into what I was experiencing and did not let me rest on my laurels. I am thankful for those who encouraged me to continue to grow spiritually and intellectually. I felt like I was never given up on and always encouraged to become my best self.

What has been the biggest challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The biggest challenge has been the way that the people in the health care system have become exhausted on many levels. Some of the most crucial part of a person’s well-being have been altered by being sick at a time of a worldwide pandemic. There have been many issues happening in our world this year that have affected the physical and emotional health, spirituality, and financial well-being of many people. My mindset as a nurse is not only to treat the illness but the person as a whole. Many patients have so much tension and stress in their lives for these reasons, so it has been tough to continue to encourage people during these times. It has become extremely challenging to provide the optimal level of care that I pride myself in giving. I always strive to provide holistic care to my patients that includes in-person family involvement. It has been extremely challenging and heart breaking to watch our patients who are so vulnerable in so many ways to face their medical struggles all on their own. We have become family, friend and caregiver to all of these patients who physically have no one else during their stay in the hospital. I am thankful that I am able to be a source of comfort for people, but COVID-19 has forced us all to step up and do things we would have never been expected to do otherwise. I have chosen to elevate my faith in God. As His vessel, I will continue to strengthen teamwork and camaraderie to allow us all to get through this together. We have learned through this awful time that there is a special opportunity to grow. I will not let the complications of COVID-19 get in the way of me providing care to the whole person and feeling proud of the way I am able to serve.

STEPHANIE HALAIKO SYKES VM96
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
The Ohio State University and Akron Children's Hospital

Why did you choose a career in the medical field? 

I always knew that I wanted to help others & loved taking care of babies, so being a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse and then Nurse Practitioner was a natural pathway for me to take. Working at a Children's Hospital and then teaching Neonatal Nurse Practitioner students at Ohio State University is where I felt God called me to work.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

I was a part of Future Medics with Mrs. Windhorst and took Biology with Mrs. Chionchio and both teachers were influential in my decision to become a nurse. Both of them were very encouraging and supportive of me while applying to college.

What has been the biggest challenge at your job during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

The biggest challenge at the hospital has been keeping up with all of the rapid changes during the pandemic and maintaining a connection with parents despite limited visitation and communication through masks and face shields. I joined the faculty at the College of Nursing at The Ohio State University part time in 2019 & full time in 2020, and challenges include modifying our teaching strategies to accommodate changes to the personal and professional lives of our students while still delivering the necessary content in the middle of a high stress pandemic.

MARYBETH THOMAS VM15
Radiologic Technologist
Cleveland Clinic Akron General

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field, because I wanted to help people. While my time with patients is short, I know my job is a critical part of their patient care, because radiology is the eyes of health care.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

When I was at STVM I was a part of a supportive and caring environment which taught me I learned that a dedication to my education would help me succeed. I developed a strong work ethic and gained confidence that allowed me to accomplish my goals.

What has been the biggest challenge at your job during the COVID-19 pandemic?

There have been many challenges working during the pandemic, but I think the most challenging aspect has been seeing how quickly a patient can decline. I’ve seen patients come into the Emergent Department one day, get discharged and then come back the next day with worsening symptoms and end up getting admitted. While following patients hospital status, one chest x-ray at a time, it gets difficult to see some patients end up in the ICU. Then, seeing those same patients alone without loved ones around them, has been extremely challenging to witness.

ANNE VALERIE WHITE VM96
Family Physician & Associate Residency Director
Summa Health Family Medicine

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

I chose to become a physician because I felt the call within my soul to use my hands to do God's work. My community supported me through difficult times and this is how I discerned to give back. I love the breadth of family medicine, my chosen specialty, because each encounter is a call to serve in a different way. From prenatal care, to delivery, to wellness, to chronic disease management, to healing with my hands through osteopathic manipulative therapy, I have the daily opportunity to perform corporal works of mercy. 

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

Mrs. Windhorst's encouragement kept me going on this long road!  Through her Future Medics club, I was able to set up shadowing experiences to help me see if medicine was right for me.  One of my favorite shadowing experiences was a day with Dr. David Sweet, a master clinician-teacher at Summa's Internal Medicine Center.  It is a privilege to now share in the work of medical education just two floors above Dr. Sweet! Also, my AP Biology class with Mrs. Chionchio gave me a great foundation for my undergraduate biology degree. She taught me the principles of scientific inquiry, which still fuels my clinical curiosity.

What has been the biggest challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 changed everything about the practice of medicine. It forced us to adapt rapidly to keep our patients and team safe, while still providing quality care. Our team found new ways to meet the healthcare needs of our community, including implementation of telemedicine visits. My partners and residents are currently providing hospitalist coverage so that Summa's hospitalist groups can focus on caring for COVID patients. This has presented some logistical challenges with covering office visits in a 30+ provider practice. I am proud to say that we have worked well together under these circumstances, and actually increased the number of patients we care for daily! It has also changed the way we teach our medical students.  Early in the pandemic, we had to preserve personal protective equipment.  Therefore, we could not allow our third and fourth year medical students in the hospital for months. They had to learn through online cases and lectures instead of caring for real  patients.  Upon their return, we sorted through physical distancing in exam rooms, incorporating students into telemedicine visits, and reconfiguring group learning experiences. Now, each face to face clinical encounter is of the utmost importance for their education. Almost one year into this pandemic, we realize that these students don't get a do-over of medical school! It has caused me to be a huge advocate for quality clinical learning experiences for them. Finally, COVID-19 has decreased the overall state of health in our community. Many people are too afraid to come in for a visit despite our best efforts to keep everyone safe. Mental health issues and chronic diseases have gone unchecked. Preventative care has been put on pause. My patients who are working parents are stretched by the demands of their children's distance learning.  Addiction, violence, and despair are tearing families apart. I can't wait to resume my group visits for new moms in addiction recovery. I am looking forward to hugging my patients again. Hope is on the horizon!

GRETCHEN MEYER WILDMAN VM88
Emergency Room RN
Summa Health System

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

My initial career was in business/sales but I didn’t feel like I was really contributing to society in a positive way. When my mom got very sick with end-stage COPD, and I was in and out of the hospital with her, I realized what a special calling it was to be a nurse. I witnessed first-hand the impact they could have on one person’s life, during their darkest times. Once my mom was approved to be put on the organ transplant list, I knew I wanted to be a part of a profession that helped to better and save lives.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

My days at STVM were definitely some of the greatest years of my life. I hadn’t really decided on a career choice upon graduation, but my experience there gave me the confidence and drive to pursue college and work to strive for success wherever my path would take me.

What has been the biggest challenge at your job during the COVID-19 pandemic?

My job has been extremely challenging since day one of the pandemic. Looking back, the fear of the unknown was probably the hardest part. The threat, and then the reality, of not having enough PPE (personal protective equipment) was overwhelming. Fast forward 10 months. Even working in a Level 1 trauma center, I would have never imagined experiencing the amount of sickness and unfortunate outcomes, as I have in the past year. It has been heart-breaking to see patients separated from their loved ones and not able to be with them in their final hours. I consider myself blessed though, to be on the front line, helping as many of the victims of this horrible virus as I can.

MEREDITH CABE WYSOCKI VM13
Registered Nurse
Cleveland Clinic Akron General

Why did you choose a career in the medical field?

I initially wanted to enter into the medical field because I knew I had a desire to help people going through difficult situations. As I went through school, and even as I started working, the reasons for that choice have evolved through my experiences with colleagues and patients as a nurse. Through situations that I couldn't have fathomed when I first started as a new grad nurse, that choice to continue pursuing this profession is renewed. There have been peaks and valleys even in a short career so far, but the interactions, both positive and negative, that help revitalize my commitment are learning experiences that I am grateful for and will never forget.

How did your time at STVM impact your decision to work in the medical field?

I think that I connect my view of the nursing profession as someone who is doing good in the world through each interaction. There's a lot of time, continuous study and education that goes into that role, but I believe that at the core of all healthcare professional roles is the mission to do good. My time at STVM helped set the foundation to show me how to put forth the effort to be a force of good in the world. My experience with other students and teachers that I led Kairos retreats with and my participation in the team dynamic of Cross Country and Marching Band all shaped that foundation to join the medical field.

What has been the biggest challenge at your job during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I actually switched jobs this past December from a General Surgery nursing unit at Cleveland Clinic Main Campus to the Endoscopy Department at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. I would say that the biggest challenge from my previous position related to the pandemic is that when the initial precautions and shutdowns were put into play, our team had to figure out how to safely keep functioning when everything else in the country seemed to just stop. There was no stopping for the patients who were still admitted to the hospital at that time or who still needed essential surgery during the shutdown, except now it was even scarier and their family members were not able to come visit or stay while the patients were admitted. It seemed that the rules and protocols changed multiple times a day and the unknown was a large and scary cloud over our heads. The patients I worked with who still required surgery for something essential during this time seemed to be sicker and sicker for whatever reason- complications, delay of care, etc. And I think the challenge became more about trying to still do our job well while having fewer resources and staff than before, more mental and emotional stress, high tension from public criticism, not to mention personal/family concerns, all without any light at the end of this tunnel we just entered. I think medical professionals are sometimes seen as an unfailingly kind person who is capable of carrying and dealing with a large burden without being affected, but the reality is we are still human. We breakdown, can't cope, and need space to decompress in order to walk into the next patient's room without giving away any of that emotion. It was difficult for nurses to have that breath of air before this pandemic started and it became that much more difficult through this past year.