A Message From Focused Care's Founder

Mark McKenzie, CEO

May 2022 Founder’s Message

I remember when the planes hit the Twin Towers. In the following days we heard stories of those tragically lost, those unfathomably heroic and those who stepped out of their normal bounds to be part of a unified community.  The country rallied, our patriotism soared and our perceptions of what was truly important in life were transformed – at least for a while. Our collective compassion took hold and amazing people did amazing things to help lift us out of the jarring reality of what happened.

Then a fascinating pattern developed. There was a post 9-11 surge in career changes. I read about a former financier who became a fireman after witnessing the unparalleled bravery of the FDNY. After EMTs found her father beneath the rubble days after the explosions, a small child at the time became a mental health counselor years later. Many children of First Responders on the scene that day became health care workers in adulthood – and are now saving lives today.  Many of those people turned to nursing.

The pandemic seems to have had opposite impacts on so many levels. While two very different catastrophic events – there are similarities and there are great contrasts. Heroism, courage and bravery were seen day in and day out on health care’s frontline – our “Covid soldiers” were there. The lasting effects of 9-11 on fireman and first responders is well documented – post traumatic stress syndrome, cancer, asthma, anxiety and depression.   It remains to be seen in data years what the pandemic has done to our health care workforce.  Mental health and burnout are the most obvious – but we don’t know to what extent. Nurses have borne the brunt of much of the health care worker stress and pain from the pandemic – across health care settings.  And where has that brought us?

Instead of the heroism of nurses inspiring others to join this noble profession, we are seeing adverse trends. The American Nurses Association predicts another 500,000 registered nurses will retire this year alone. The pandemic has made existing nursing shortages more severe, placing additional pressure on nurses and the health care system as a whole. A new survey found more than one-third of nurses say it’s very likely they will leave their roles by the end of the year and 44 percent cited burnout and a high-stress environment as the reason for their desire to leave.

This is a crisis and we need to address it. We need to foster interest in nursing much earlier than we do – begin in high school to steer students toward a viable career path.  We need to focus on diversifying the nursing student population and provide incentives for those in search of a meaningful profession but who may not have the resources to pursue one. We must encourage advance nurses to consider teaching positions in nursing schools as today’s faculty is either aging out or leaving academia for the more profitable clinical setting. We must ensure the strength of the nursing profession for the health of our country.

We recognized National Skilled Nursing Care Week last week (May 8-14). Its theme was Creating and Nurturing Connections.

Consider care providers in nursing homes who during COVID not only delivered on their traditional duties, but also:

  • served as a lifeline to the outside community
  • became the conduit to the residents’ family members
  • comforted when that was all that was left to do
  • propped up their team members when they needed it
  • stayed strong at home for their family members

Calling all individuals who want to leave a legacy, who want to actually change someone’s life, who want to help the vulnerable: choose a position in nursing and please consider skilled nursing. We don’t need a catastrophic event to be noble.  We just need to care.


Mark McKenzie