Photography project highlights the care and craft of nurses

Hospital celebrates National Nurses Week with a unique photojournalism project.

“I had no idea that that nurses knew how to do this stuff.”

That’s a typical reaction nurse Jenn Knepper has received over the years to her technical—and personal—work as a nurse.

Now she has captured that work in a unique photography project.

The photography series, “Carry the Day: The Power of a Nurse,” was part of Knepper’s effort to document nurses in the course of their duties at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s Medical Intensive Care Unit and Medical Intermediate Care Unit, in conjunction with National Nurses Week. Knepper says the series was inspired by the viral “Humans of New York” series, which used photos and written narratives to tell stories of everyday individuals, and also by her own father’s hospital experience.

The powerful images capture both the care and the craft required of nurses—the emotional impact a nurse has on his or her patients and the “rigorously, scientifically trained” reality of nursing, according to Knepper.

“Carry the Day” seemed at first to be a daunting task, according to Knepper. To comply with HIPAA regulations, nurses were diligent about getting signed consent forms from participants and their families before using subjects’ images. The project earned the go-ahead from Magnet program director Kristine Reynolds, whose job is to ensure the hospital maintains its prestigious Magnet recognition for nursing excellence—an accolade it achieved for the third time in 2017.

The photographs are displayed in the main entrance to the Medical Intensive Care Unit and posted to the hospital’s blog.

Ultimately, Knepper was impressed by the ease of execution. She described how people expected a cumbersome camera crew that might have interfered with treatment, when in reality, The Premise Studio photographers’ presence was subtle.

Hershey is unique in that its medical school, Penn State College of Medicine, has a department of humanities that promotes right-brain activities among medical students. It was the first medical school to have a department of humanities, according to its website.

The hospital is home to cardiologist Dr. Joseph Gascho, who also photographs patients as an artistic outlet.

“Carry the day” describes how a nurse’s demeanor can affect the feel of every room he or she walks into, an aspect of the profession captured by the demeanors of the nurses visible in their interactions with patients.

See all the photos here.

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