It was an honor to cover health care professionals

Sometimes a job is just a job. Other times you’re lucky enough to know exactly what you want to do in your career and your job is a true passion — some would even say a calling.

In my case, working as the managing editor of Pulse started as the former and wound up being the latter. In 2003, I took over the role and thought of it as just another newspaper gig in a career that had started in 1985.

I had been involved in covering the 1996 Summer Olympics, the 1988 Democratic Convention and numerous elections, scandals, natural disasters and all the other types of stories that we published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. What was one more assignment?

What I didn’t know then was that Pulse was different. Pulse was launched 21 years ago as a vehicle to tell stories about the dedicated people who are committed to caring for all of us — nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists and other allied health care professionals.

I was already a seasoned journalist at the time, but I had a lot to learn about these health care professionals. This is no knock on doctors, but what I soon discovered was that these folks are the very heartbeat of health care — the Pulse, if you will.

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They go the extra mile and then some to make sure patients get quality care. That can mean closely following proven best practices or doing groundbreaking research that improves patient care. It can mean saving someone who has a severe allergic reaction during a plane flight (see story on Page 6). It can mean making sure a dying man gets to see his beloved dog one more time before passing away. It can mean an encouraging smile or a hug that makes things just a little better.

Anyone who has been hospitalized or who has had family members in that situation has seen first-hand why nurses are the nation’s most-trusted professionals. When my youngest son was 9, he had a tonsillectomy at Gwinnett Medical Center’s Joan Glancy Memorial Hospital. Beforehand, he was scared and even though it was minor surgery, his mother and I were pretty anxious as well. That ended when the nurses took over. I can’t describe exactly what they did; I just know that their very presence and demeanor made all of us feel better. It was as if they possessed a magic touch.

When my father was diagnosed with brain cancer and underwent a year of chemotherapy at the Winship Cancer Center and Emory University Hospital, it was the nurses who made sure he got the quality care he needed and that he didn’t get too bored during those monthly three-day treatments.

Those angels were also there to comfort my mother and the rest of our family when my father passed away two years later.

I have the utmost respect and admiration for nurses, PTs, OTs, RTs and other allied health professionals. They have tough, stressful jobs and we need them now more than ever. I’ve gotten to know many of them over the years and I have found them to be caring, down to earth and very humble, especially when we honor them during our annual Celebrating Nurses event or highlight them in a story in Pulse.

After 26 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, I am leaving to pursue other career opportunities. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as the managing editor of Pulse. Working with editor Laura Raines, I have been blessed with the opportunity to help tell stories that have heart, soul and a message of hope. I have no doubt that Lane Holman will do a great job in carrying on the mission of Pulse, just as the dedicated people that we feature in its pages will continue to be the heartbeat of health care.

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