Nurses Supporting Nurses: WHS grad helping healthcare workers cope

WILMINGTON — A Wilmington grad is continuing her nursing journey on another level.

Megan (Weaver) Culbertson, a 2009 Wilmington High School graduate and nurse, has started an online support group called Nurses Supporting Nurses.

Since the last time the News Journal spoke to Culbertson in September 2020, she’s been continuing her work as a travel nurse including spending nine months in Florida after work in Washington, DC She’s worked in Cardiac Progressive Care and COVID units.

The Delta variant wave took a “severe toll” on her mental health, which led to her taking time off for the holidays.

“Unfortunately, over the holidays, I owe COVID and, despite being triple vaccinated, I now have long-haul symptoms,” she said. “I’m having cardiac symptoms and brain fog and currently undergoing testing to hopefully find answers. Because of this, I am physically unable to go back to work. I have been a nurse for nine years, and helping people is a large part of who I am.”

She said she found herself “lost” and “not being able to work in the traditional bedside sense of a nurse.” So she decided to look for other ways she could help people.

She started the Nurses Supporting Nurses support group.

“I have found a passion for mental health and caring for the healers — the healthcare workers who have been forgotten. These are my people and I feel so proud to be helping them in this small way,” she said.

The website peacelovenursing.com states this group “is my small attempt to reach and help at least one person. This support group is open to any nurse — LPN, RN, NP, Ph.D., CRNA in any field of nursing.”

The session would take place online every Wednesday for four weeks in March “to discuss anything the group wants. We can choose a topic, or simply share our stories and what is on our hearts. This group will be a space to find community amongst fellow nurses.”

She to start the support group after seeing the lack of mental health care and decided to support some hospitals and other healthcare facilities were giving staff.

“Every day, we are walking onto the unit and facing trauma. After two years, the cumulative caretaking trauma is taking a toll on the people I worked with,” she said.

She recalled seeing nurses crying in the hallway, scared to come to work, overwhelmed, and not receiving any support.

“Through the help of some mental health professionals I am friends with, I started the support group to give nurses and other healthcare workers a safe space to come for community and support,” she said.

Participants will also receive a weekly email to “further enhance your experience with this group”. The email includes journal prompts and encouragement words. “Nothing in the email is required, just other options to work through your current thoughts and feelings.”

After completing the first four planned meetings, the initially 13-member group unanimously decided to continue.

“This was a big accomplishment, and I am so thankful that these amazing and brave nurses and CNAs feel comfortable opening up and sharing with me,” she said.

The group remains open to any healthcare worker.

“My goal is to keep the groups small so it is a safe and comfortable place for everyone. As we grow, I will open up more groups. I would love to invite any healthcare worker from any specialty who is looking for community and support among people who truly understand what we go through,” she said.

She hopes that, from these sessions, people realize they’re not alone, and that they find hope.

“When work is full of dark days and trauma, it’s very easy to lose the feeling of hope. I lost almost all the patients I cared for during the Delta wave, and it really took its toll,” she said. “I am still grieving and trying to work through the feelings of working during such an intense and sad time. I want people to not feel alone in their experiences and grief. I also hope by coming together, we can share what is working to help us through our grief and trauma, and learn from each other.”

Any healthcare worker looking to join may visit peacelovingursing.com for more information.

Culbertson, left, with her father Mark Weaver, at her nursing school graduation in 2017.

WHS grad sees COVID from all sides

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

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