NewYork-Presbyterian Queens nurse reflects on helping to care for COVID patients in pandemic

Diana Rickman has spent 10 years as a nurse caring for patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital in Flushing. (Photo courtesy of Diana Rickman)

Diana Rickman of Nassau County has spent 10 years caring for patients as a nurse at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital in Flushing. For Rickman, being a nurse brings positivity and educational experiences to help with a greater purpose in life. 

Rickman is a nurse in the department of perioperative services. Prior to working in the OR, she was an emergency department nurse for five years. 

Rickman was inspired to become a nurse after observing her mother dealing with a health-related issue. According to Rickman, she wanted to enter a profession that was rewarding and helped people. 

“Being able to assist people from all walks of life, when they’re at their most vulnerable state and being able to save the community and grow as a person, is the most rewarding aspect of the job,” Rickman said. 

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Rickman was one of the first people to volunteer to work the night shift in the emergency department to care for COVID patients. Though it was the least desirable shift, Rickman felt compelled to help. She worked three 12-hour overnight shifts which helped her to balance her home and family responsibilities with childcare.

While COVID was new for the population around the globe, Rickman and her colleagues were tasked with learning more about the illness, how to assist and take care of patients, being supportive of the staff and team and how to move forward with the situation, she said. 

“We were all team-oriented, unified, and we all knew what the common goal was: to take care of everyone and support each other during that time,” Rickman said. 

As a nurse working long hours, Rickman says staying focused on her mission and purpose helps her get through the day. 

“Being able to know we work for a facility that supports us, and having talented team members who are there to care for the patients and support the community, stays with me,” Rickman said. 

According to Rickman, being in the nursing profession allows one to reflect on themselves and others. 

“You have the potential to make an impact with every interaction when you meet with someone whether it be a patient, parent or friend. I’ve learned a great deal from working in the nursing profession, even in my own personal life that I’m able to bring forth to my family, friends and my community,” Rickman said. “I’m very grateful for the acknowledgment from all of my managers and team members, for helping me become the person I am today.”