Watching the news, speaking with my patients, and even just listening to random strangers converse, I’m saddened by what I’m hearing. My perspective is different than most. I grew up in southwestern Nigeria in the Emure-Ekiti kingdom, where my family, the Adumori Royal Dynasty, has ruled since about 1200 AD. As an African princess living in Diaspora, I have seen firsthand what it’s like when people don’t have access to adequate medical care.

People in Africa and other parts of the world are dying from a lack of necessities like food and water, and here in America we are blessed to have access to a miracle of modern science that can save your life.

It’s mind boggling and irritating that people are so against this vaccine.

I left the royal household at the age of 17 and decided to come to America to pursue my dream of psychiatry and mental health. I was determined to bridge the gap between Africa and America, helping people with trauma change their life stories. For years I successfully did just that, but I’m not sure how much longer I can go on. I’m not sure how much longer any of my fellow health care workers can go on. Many have called it quits already.

We don’t want to be heroes. We just want to be able to go home safely to our families each night. As a psychiatric mental health doctor of nurse practice, I may have signed up to help you move from trauma to recovery; but I never signed up to die, nor did I sign up to have my own family affected in a traumatic way.

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2020 was deemed the year of the nurse; yet in 2021 we are burning them all out. If more people don’t take the delta variant seriously, get vaccinated, and start wearing masks, look out! 2022 will be known as the year of the nurse exodus. If you think doctor’s offices and hospitals are busy now and run less efficiently than they should, you’re not going to like what’s coming.

Nurses are the heart and soul of our health care system, and without them it will be pure pandemonium.

Our health care providers are exhausted and depressed right now, not because our patients are getting sick and dying from COVID-19, but because they don’t have to. We have pleaded and preached, but we’re still being ignored by many of our patients.

Honestly, we’re scared out of our minds because even though we have been vaccinated, we know the high volume of sick patients we see each day puts us at risk to carry the virus and transmit it to even more people.

It's time to care for one another, ditch the rhetoric about politics, ignore the misinformation, and start saving lives. It shouldn’t even be a question of if people should get vaccinated and wear masks. They should just do it.

If not for you, do it for your family, friends, kids who are too young to be vaccinated, health care providers, and all those around you.

Nurses and all health care providers are not machines; nor are we robots. We have blood running through our veins, and if people won’t do what it takes to protect us, we will do whatever it takes to take care of ourselves and our own families — even if that means walking away from it all.

If the pandemic tide does not change and people do not vaccinate, you will hear more and more stories of nurses and other health care workers throwing in the towel.

Do your part. Do the right thing. Get vaccinated. Save your life and the lives of those around you. It’s the only way we will ever get the upper hand on COVID-19 and return to the life we all love.

Dr. Fumi Stephanie Hancock of outside Phoenix is the founder of Pool of Bethesda Psychiatric Health (pobpsychiatry.com), the author of 24 self-help books, and a fellow at the first Johnsons & Johnson Nurse Innovation Fellowship. To read more about her, go to drfumipsychdnp.com.