Beginning my journey on a post-partum unit during COVID19

Submitted by McGill University
October 24, 2020

After officially graduating from nursing school in May, I began working as a candidate to the nursing profession on a post-partum unit. I already felt a bit overwhelmed from starting my first official nursing job and the pandemic was definitely not helping alleviate this feeling. Although I was lucky enough to see very few COVID positive mothers over the summer, a concern that arose early in my journey was my ability to develop therapeutic relationships with my patients given the new sanitary measures. In fact, having to wear a mask and protective eyewear at all times creates a challenge in regard to our non-verbal communication, which is an important aspect of building therapeutic relationships with the individuals we care for.  I feared that patients would feel intimidated or too uncomfortable to share their feelings and ask questions to a face that they could barely see. Wanting to help my patients feel their best especially during these difficult times, I hoped my joyful personality and my compassion for others would help me face this challenge, and it did. One busy evening, I cared for a young couple and their newborn twins. Despite feeling like I hadn’t been fully present for them because other patients of mine had required greater medical assistance, when I went to wish them a good night, the young couple thanked me multiple times for my help. I was happily surprised to hear that they had felt like I was only dedicated to them throughout the evening. On my way home, I reflected on our encounters during the shift and realized I had indeed taken the time to discuss with them, to commend them on their strengths and to prioritize the needs that they had shared with me. Overall, this simple interaction was meaningful to me because it made me realized how I was able to positively impact this family’s experience at the hospital during these difficult times. Even with protective equipment limiting part of our non-verbal communication, it is possible to develop a trusting relationship with patients by remaining true to ourself and being passionate about helping others.