As a registered nurse, Tracee Coleman has seen more than her fair share of Coronavirus related fatalities. Her tales and experiences have been made up of life, career and financial lessons we can all learn from as people and members of a community. Tracee, a wife and mother of two, obtained her undergraduate degree in economics from Spellman College in 2005. She soon after discovered her passion for healthcare and went on to earn her nursing degree from the University of Rochester in New York. After getting her degree and moving back home to Georgia, she began her career as a floor nurse at the Emory University Health Centre and progressed into case management with insurance companies. Following that, she got into the field of clinical informatics after graduate school. Tracee is currently practicing at Morehouse Healthcare, the “faculty practice of Morehouse School of Medicine”, which solidified her move from floor nursing to more administrative jobs. That is, until the pandemic hit.
When Coronavirus hit America, which happened to coincide with the early stages of Tracee’s second pregnancy, virtually everyone at Tracee’s workplace with administrative duties was sent home. Because of the CDC placing pregnant women in the high risk category, she worked from home for the duration of her pregnancy. Working and living through a pandemic is one thing but doing so while in the process of bringing new life into this world comes with its own issues. Toward the end of the year, Tracee delivered her baby through c-section and even though she knew what to expect, she still was not prepared for the isolation. In contrast with her earlier pregnancy, she was not surrounded by family and loved ones, and a disparity such as that one can be traumatic for both mother and child.
Returning to the office after her maternity leave, everything was different. Tracee is back on the floor, while fulfilling her administrative duties. She vaccinates people daily and on weekends, while ensuring the state receives report of every vaccinated individual.These combined responsibilities gave her a new normal. But the ordeal was not devoid of silver linings. For one thing, she appreciates getting to use her clinical skills once again, because as human beings, no matter how advanced we become in our chosen speciality, we are bound to get rusty in an area or two. The refresher was greatly appreciated.
With all that has happened to humanity in the year since the virus struck North America, Tracee Coleman remains optimistic and hopeful for the future of her community.
Granted, there was some initial hesitation among minority communities because of the United States’ history with medical developments and black/brown folk, but it is refreshing to see the vast number of people that have come around. For those who still downplay the severity of the virus, Tracy has a few words for them. “The ICU tells you the story,” she said. Talk to a long hauler ICU patient, talk to a marathon runner who can’t breathe after walking two steps. Go to the morgue and see somebody who did not make it. “Sometimes it takes getting in some shoes to see how they feel, to see if they’re too tight”.
In her time spent getting to know the ins and outs of this virus, as well as navigating life during a pandemic, Tracee has gained valuable wisdom she is more than happy to share. As a nurse, she has learned to constantly remain clinically competent. “No matter where you are in nursing, you’re always a nurse, so keep that in the forefront”. As a person, she advises to always be in tune with your body and listen to it. No one knows your body like you do, therefore it is your responsibility to give it the attention, and if required, medical intervention it deserves. To the nurses at the beginning of their career, she encourages them to “soak up all of that leaning and be receptive to the training”. As a piece of financial advice, she aptly summarizes her point in these two words: “Be Ready”. Financial preparedness goes a long way during a once-in-a-generation pandemic. The words “Be Ready” can be applied to virtually every aspect of life. If there is anything that working as a first responder during COVID times has taught her, it is that. Lives are saved and losses are minimized when we all prepare. That is a wonderful motto to carry with one on the journey of life.