Health care workers in personal protective equipment attend to a patient.

Preparing to Go Back to the Bedside During COVID-19: A Nurse-Turned-Bioethicist Reflects

By Emily Largent

Alarms are going off. They are loud and insistent, demanding the attention of doctors and nurses. I hear them, too.

Roughly a decade ago, I was a cardiothoracic ICU nurse in Los Angeles, California. Working with patients was deeply satisfying, but I regularly encountered ethical challenges that I wanted to address. Therefore, I stepped away from the bedside to go to law school and pursue my PhD in health policy. Now, I live in Philadelphia and work on ethical issues in medical policy and practice.

Recently, though, I renewed my California nursing license and began the process of pursuing a Temporary Practice Permit in Pennsylvania. The COVID-19 pandemic requires us all to sacrifice, to serve in ways that advance the greater good. So, I located the clogs I had pushed to the back of the closet and (literally) dusted them off. My parents sorted through the boxes I’d left in their garage when I moved east for grad school; they found my stethoscope and a few pairs of scrubs and shipped them to me. The box arrived this weekend.

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