By Aubrey Gurney, UMAC Intern

Catherine Webb graduated from Salt Lake City Community Colleges’ nursing program, and recently earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Dixie State University. Today, she works as a charge nurse in the Neonatal ICU at Primary Children’s Hospital.

“I have worked in the NICU here for 15 years, it was my dream job and I still consider myself blessed to work here,” Catherine said. “It is my favorite role because all I do is help my coworkers all day long.”

Working as a nurse is not only physically draining, it’s emotionally draining. In 2018, Catherine Webb was working in the ICU at Primary Children’s Hospital when she watched several of her coworkers leave because they did not feel well supported, it was then she knew something had to change. Catherine approached her director and asked for permission to start a support group. Permission was granted and she was excited to get to work, until one of her patients died the next day.

“The patient I was caring for coded and died, I was sitting on an ECMO pump and I had never felt more helpless in my entire life,” Catherine said.

Catherine and her coworkers cried as they tried to save their infant patient, but were unsuccessful. After that experience, Catherine was unsure if she would ever be able to go back to work. “Seeing the condition of this baby when the code was called nearly did me in,” she said.

During this time, Catherine was working on her BSN at DSU and needed a capstone project. She decided that starting this much needed support group for her fellow nurses was the perfect choice.

“I was still struggling after that code, but I so desperately wanted to help my peers,” Catherine said. “Using this project as my capstone allowed me to do so much more research than I otherwise would have done, I prepared so many presentations and garnered an even greater love of peer support.”

In February 2019, Catherine organized and held the first ever event for, “Care for the Caregiver,” where she and her fellow nurses gathered to listen to a presentation, discuss the topic, and then open the floor to anyone who needed time to talk. They have had monthly meetings ever since.

“Some of my favorite topics have been self-care, finding joy, asking for help, what to do when you start to feel burnout, failing forward, and Memes,” Catherine said. “Memes have been some of our most successful ones.” Although the saying “laughter is the best medicine” is a bit cliché, it has been proven that laughter has multiple health benefits.

The “Care for the Caregiver” series has created a network for caregivers to have someone to check up on and someone to check in with them. When someone is struggling, a patient has died, or someone went through a rough code, the Care for a Caregiver committee makes sure to reach out and offer support.

“Simply acknowledging that something happened has made a huge difference,” Catherine said. “Peer support is so much more than our monthly meetings.”

Due to the fight against COVID-19, caregivers across the nation have been in need of extra support. Catherine said that COVID-19 has been intense, and they currently don’t have any admittable beds available. To lift spirits, “Care for the Caregiver” started to put treats in mailboxes to let the staff know they cared for.

To Catherine, nursing is more than just taking care of patients – it’s also taking care of the nurses in her unit.

“I know that what we are doing is making a difference and we have been able to retain nurses by what we are doing,” Catherine said.

Interested in becoming a nurse? Visit DSU’s nursing program’s website to learn more.