As expected, news coverage of this year’s Boston Marathon was extensive. In the days and weeks leading up to the one-year anniversary of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, television, radio, print and social media overflowed with stories of pain, struggle, triumph and resilience. We saw, heard and read tributes to the victims and heroes of last year’s tragedy; profiles of survivors as they cope with their injuries; and story after story of the unprecedented security in place to protect a city determined to persevere.
Each news item—each article, each broadcast, each tweet—served to remind us that the world's oldest and most famous annual marathon was changed forever with the explosion of those two bombs at the finish line.
Amid the media frenzy, however, one 20-second sound bite provided some welcome and satisfying reassurance that while events and circumstances continuously evolve and adapt to the needs of the times, the heart, soul and motivation of individuals who have made caring for others their life’s work are impervious to change.
In an interview with a registered nurse who, as a race spectator, joined first responders last year tending to bombing victims, a local reporter asked, “How does it feel to be here as just a spectator and not a nurse this year?” After a split second of obvious confusion over a question that didn’t seem to make sense, she replied: “Being a nurse is who I am, wherever I am. It’s not something that gets left at home. It’s the same for every medical person who stepped up that day—doctors, nurses, EMTs. What we do is help people who are in pain.”
This is something we see time and again in response to crises. And it is a message worth repeating when trying to make sense of the rapid pace of change in today’s health care industry: Amid the chaos and complexity of our evolving health care system, what remains constant is the fundamental mission to help people who are suffering.