(CNN)When Lauren and Lacie Brown graduated from nursing school, neither of them thought they'd be walking right into the front lines of a pandemic.
"When the pandemic hit, it changed the whole atmosphere," said Lauren Brown.
"You didn't think it would ever happen here, and then when it started, it was just kind of a like a whirlwind," added Lacie.
The 21-year-old fraternal twins graduated from Oklahoma City Community College in December. They quickly landed jobs, with the sisters now working together in the ICU at INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center in Oklahoma City, treating critically ill and Covid-19 patients.
Inspired by a family crisis
To say the twins are inseparable is an understatement.
"We've never had to walk into any situation alone," said Lauren.
They played the same sports in high school, went to the same college for their undergraduate degrees, and now are both are pursuing their master's degrees in nursing at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
"We've always had each other. I can't imagine it any differently; it just sounds lonely," Lacie quipped in an interview with CNN.
The twins had an early interest in the medical field and decided to become nurses when they were about 12 years old after the family experienced a health crisis.
"My brother Hunter was diagnosed with leukemia at 16," explained Lacie.
The family spent a lot of time at the hospital, seeing firsthand how much a compassionate and empathetic nurse could do to help patients and their families heal.
"Just seeing the impact that the nurses made that was really changing for me," Lacie said.
"The nurse is that person there for you day in and day out to see that person get better."
"It didn't only change his life, but it also changed our whole family," added Lauren.
Their brother, now in full remission, also works as a nurse.
For the Browns, helping patients -- and their loved ones -- is a family business.
"I find it really important to find that connection, they need someone to hold their hand and walk them through it just like those nurses did for our family," said Lacie.
In this together
Frontline nurses around the world are acknowledging the physical and emotional toll this pandemic has taken on them. Both Lauren and Lacie say this experience is stressful, but they credit each other for the strength to keep going.
"We don't have to explain it, we could just walk through it together," said Lacie.
"We are built-in best friends, and I can't imagine it any differently," Lauren agreed.