A story of a novice nurse

Submitted by Mcgill university
October 24, 2020

I belong to the new batch of nurses who graduated during this pandemic. Reaching my goal of becoming a nurse was not an easy journey, especially during this unfortunate time. I got hired on an internal medicine floor, which was transformed into a red zone COVID -19 floor. My first day of orientation, June 1st, 2020. I remember that day clearly… I was nervous because of the new environment but also how chaotic it was. I was introduced to my preceptors. She showed me how to put on the PPE properly. I walked into the unit with my N95 mask, face shield, gown and gloves. Doing a 12hr shift in an N95 mask is not an easy thing. I salute the health care professionals who were present in this fight against COVID-19, since day one. As the day progressed, I was more and more nauseous, as well as experiencing headaches and chest pain. My first day was brutal, I had scars and bruises all over my face from the N95. I simply felt overwhelmed. I believe, it was the uncertainty and fear of the unknown. As a novice nurse, it is already hard to adjust to a new workplace, so under these circumstances, it was much harder. I remember thinking of quitting and just questioning my career choice. After a couple of days, our unit returned to normal but this very little experience with COVID-19 patients taught me the importance of strength-based nursing. As we are aware, there is no cure or treatment for this virus yet. To protect our patient’s mental health, it is important to implement Strength-based nursing into our practice. During their fight against COVID-19, they are isolated from their families and friends. Even though the use of platforms like facetime was provided to them, still it was not the same experience for them. So, by using the SBN approach, we will be able to bring a positive aspect of their life into their care. I have seen how strong my team was during this tough time and yet burned out. This pandemic will have a severe impact on their mental health and also some might experience PTSD. I have colleagues who have shared very traumatic experiences with me. Some were forced to be full time; others were floated on other units. This whole experience was very tough for everyone. My one advice would be to be patient. The progression of this pandemic is unpredictable and very long. This is why we should work in a team and have faith in your team. No one understands your situation better than your colleagues.