My name is Valerie and quarantine hit around the time my nursing career was supposed to start. I was in the last half of my last semester of nursing school, and the next seven weeks were meant to be focused on our preceptorship clinical rotation. Though I was nervous to be on my own during preceptorship, I was excited to learn and experience what nursing is like on the field with no clinical instructors while having a full patient load. However, COVID-19 had other ideas and clinical rotations were canceled. My immediate thoughts were that my nursing career would be compromised. I had it in my head that this was the final and most important task that I needed to succeed in to be on the right path of becoming what someone might consider a good nurse. And honestly, I panicked. I did not want to start my career feeling underprepared. I felt like COVID-19 was taking something from me that I had work so hard for.
Two months later, while waiting for my nursing permit, I started work as a candidate for the profession of nursing (CPN). Though I have been frequenting hospitals for the last 3 years, the environment was completely different. I was working on the medicine unit and the quietness was the first thing I noticed. I never realized how much more life visitors brought to the place. I felt I had to work harder to maintain morale and keep my patients from noticing too much that their loved ones were not allowed to visit.
The hospital I worked at never had a COVID-19 case but tests were done daily for new admissions and patient transfers. I still felt like I was missing a big chunk of my training and it impacted my thinking process. I doubted myself an unhealthy amount of times during those first few weeks. Soon, I realized that there was no time to wait and feel ready just because I had missed those precious seven weeks of preceptorship. I was here at this hospital and I had these patients who were depending on me during this difficult time. I just had to be ready. It was not ideal but the situation could not be avoided and soon I was only questioning myself a healthy amount of times.
At some point, I was surrounded by nurses who voluntarily worked a few weeks on COVID-19 units at other hospitals. They were sharing their stories and I remember feeling inspired, and frankly intimidated, by these nurses. I hope to be half as courageous as them and still choose to run where I am needed the most when facing the unknown.