Why nurse videos keep going viral (and what hospitals can learn from them)

Read Advisory Board's take: Why do nurse videos keep 'going viral'?

A video of Mikea Braden, a nurse technician at St. Thomas Hospital, singing "Amazing Grace" to a 71-year-old patient went viral this week after being posted on Facebook. The video has been viewed more than 24,000 times online and featured on news stations around the country—but Braden is far from alone in gaining viral acclaim for her nursing work.

Here are four ways nurses have gone viral for their extraordinary commitment to their patients.

1. 'Amazing Grace'

The video of Braden was posted by Olivia Kilburn, the granddaughter of Braden's patient, Patsy Tate. According to Kilburn, Braden had been humming a song when Kilburn's grandfather said, "I bet you know 'Amazing Grace.'"

To which Braden responded, "Yeah! I'm gonna sing it for y'all!"

In the caption for the video, Kilburn wrote that her grandmother "has been blessed with the BEST nurse tech."

2. 'The Singing Nurse'

Braden isn't the only nurse to gain internet acclaim for her musical gifts. In 2013, Jared Axen, then a registered nurse at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in California, similarly featured in a viral video.

After patients overheard Axen—a former child performer and classically trained vocalist—singing love songs and Broadway hits in the hallways, they began asking him to sing to them too. Soon, he was singing routinely during daily rounds and became known in the hospital as "The Singing Nurse."

3. Costumes for babies

A number of nurses also have gained recognition for their efforts to bring holiday cheer to ICUs and other sometimes-dreary spaces in the hospital.

For example, at St. Luke Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, nurses dressed up their neonatal intensive care unit babies in a variety of costumes for Halloween, with help from volunteers and the March of Dimes.

Similarly, nurses from Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh hand-knit sweaters for the newborns at their hospital for an ugly Christmas sweater holiday party.

4. The patient who walked again

Bailey Murrill has a rare condition that leads her brain to act as if she's partially paralyzed. After she lost feeling in her legs at home in 2015, she ended up at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Texas. She was told there was less than a 5% chance that she'd ever walk again.

But during the stay, Murrill defied the odds—shocking and delighting her nurse. The nurse's reaction to seeing Murrill stand was filmed, and the video went viral, attracting more than 10 million views

Other viral nurses

Other viral nurses include Katherine Lockler, an RN who works at several EDs in northwest Florida. In Feb. 2018, she recorded a Facebook video that went viral, warning people of the "cesspool of funky flu" in the ED and bluntly advising them to "wash your stinking hands" to avoid spreading the virus.

In another viral Facebook post, Faye Lewis, an RN at Memorial Medical Center, posted a picture of her work badges over the years, tracing her journey from a KFC employee to an RN working on her Ph.D.

The post, which outlines Lewis' career trajectory as she pursued her nursing degree while juggling two jobs, school, and raising a child, clearly connected with many viewers. After it went viral, Lewis said, "You know it warms my heart that people can get inspired and motivated by my story" (Fox5, 2/13; Simmons, Los Angeles Times, 7/3/13; Wade, USA Today, 4/27/15).

Advisory Board's take

Anne Herleth

Anne Herleth, Senior Consultant, Nursing Executive Center

While nurses aren't the only caregivers to have their work go viral (remember the neurosurgeon who "saved" a wounded teddy bear?), nurses seem to get more than their share of viral fame.

The reason for that may be that, for many patients and families, nurses are the most visible, present member of the care team. Long after surgeons have packed up their scalpels and doctors have moved on in their rounds, nurses are still at the bedside, managing symptoms, tracking recovery, and building the sorts of meaningful relationships that sometimes give rise to a viral Facebook post or YouTube video.

“That's why it's so important to make sure we're returning the favor and taking care of nurses.”

To me, this underscores just how central caregiving is to nursing. Nurses put all their energy into their patients—going above and beyond and often overlooking their own needs in the process. As a result, many nurses today report symptoms of caregiver fatigue—including stress and burn out. While nurses are incredibly resilient people, even the most resilient nurses need help bouncing back from constant caregiving and the stresses in today's care environment.

That's why it's so important to make sure we're returning the favor and taking care of nurses. One important way hospital and health system leaders can better support nurses is by addressing the 'cracks in the foundation' that can undermine their resilience. Through our research, we've identified four of the most pernicious cracks:

  1. The rise of violence and point-of-care safety threats in health care settings;
  2. Nurses' sense that they must make compromises in care delivery;
  3. An overwhelming set of responsibilities that forces nurses to bounce from traumatic experiences to other care activities with no time to recover; and
  4. New technology and responsibilities that lead nurses to feel "isolated in a crowd."

To learn more about these cracks—and what strategies you can use to fight them—download our recent infographic on the four foundational cracks that are undermining your nurses' resilience.

Get the Infographic

Then, be sure to read our full research study on how to Rebuild the Foundation for a Resilient Workforce.

Download the Study


Next in the Daily Briefing

How a new Medicare ambulance payment model seeks to prevent avoidable ED visits

Read now