Many say, it is a brave move to return in nursing practice, since of the pandemic state that wreaked havoc on our old normal routines. When majority veer away from the many “micro-ground-zeroes” of the COVID-19 pandemic we call as “isolation wards”, here, I am bringing myself at forefronts of this medical battle.
Being at the Human Resources and administration practice for almost 13 years, there are many theories and skills that could have already evaporated from my very nerves and veins or lost the manual dexterity even for the most basic and fundamental skills. Though, there are some stock knowledge still remaining intact to enable me to discuss some basic health teachings to clients and patients. Also, I am most likely behind with the latest trends and best practices in health care. Indeed, thinking and contemplating this decision took me weeks to finally do the move. I started on renewing my license despite the struggle on getting an online schedule with PRC website, and eventually sending through my resumes to hospitals across the archipelago, hoping that a recruiter would consider a tricenarian like me with absolutely zero clinical experience.
Understanding my career path, I already made a mindset of me being a junior again. I have imagined already the many possible “toxic” duties ahead on my career. I have imagined strict and cold charge nurses. I have imagined warfreak relatives and know-it-all patients. With these thoughts in mind, I started to arm myself by going back to my nursing books and, now, immersing myself in various media that would review me of the fundamentals of nursing. Additionally, this would prepare for upcoming interviews. Came series of interviews, and the main question always focus on the reason of my unprecedented decision to transfer, and possibly, accepting to be deployed to isolation units. My main response is that there is already a higher probability for underemployed nurses like me to be accepted again in clinical practice. Thank God we made it!
It was one of the most excited day of 2020 when alarm rang to signal my first day of work at the hospital, breaking my normal routine of peeling my eyes any hour of the day. Donning once again the iconic white uniform, there is a mix of emotions violently storming inside me – apprehension, excitement and fear.
Upon arriving at the institution, we signed some forms and started our orientation. It feels surreal being seated beside with experienced newly hired nurses – cardiac nurse, dialysis nurse and a general ward nurse. I would call them, Ms. Bea, Ms. Leanne and Ms. Emz. I would regard them as my batchmates. I can sense through their eyes the skills they bring. Our paths separated when we got to our respective unit of assignment. My final assignment is at the Isolation Ward. I swallowed seemingly a walnut sized air into my esophagus and entered the nurse station.
Brimming with smiles and happy faces, I saw my colleagues to be – the team that would train me for seven days. My charge nurse is Ms. Faith, along with my Senior Nurses, Ms. Kaye and Sir Jass, and with Ms. Didith as my head nurse. There was an atmosphere of warmth and support for a beginner and newly hired Trainee Nurse like me. (Yes, I used many adjectives to stress how junior I see myself in this practice).
My senior nurses are aggressive regarding my training, they brought to my plate many relevant and actual learning snippets from the first hour up to the last endorsement before rest day. They have explained generally the process flows of different scenarios, including the documentary requirements and prerequisites. Even on my first day, they allowed me to don the Level 4 PPE and enter the Isolation ward. I felt I need to hit the ground running. I observed how efficiently fast the move, like a flick of a wand, then things are done.
They trained me on preparing medications, IV fluids and other common procedures done inside the ward. It is a different set up comparing to regular wards I had exposure with prior landing to my final assignment unit.
TIP for TRAINEES: Always have your notebook and pen within easy reach, note any new learning, information and procedures your trainers have discussed with you. Pen and paper is still the best option for me in maximizing memory retention. I also read back after duty the notes I made during the day. Also, always ask questions! Never be shy to ask, or suffer the consequences. Additionally, what they always say to me is “presence of mind.:
The moment I met patients for the first time, I was lost with the appropriate vocabulary. I need to tune my ears and mouth in a health care setup and unlearn the HR hat. I wish I could share more details about patients but would rather keep the confidentiality.
Days has passed and I thought of making a kind and warm approach to patients to establish rapport. I speak firmly with sweet tone with them to help earn their trust being the health care provider, understanding that I am a trainee, still inching my way to relearn those skills and manual dexterity.
I have enjoyed largely my first week of training and exposure. My Senior Nurses and Charge Nurse had a lion’s share with it. The duty is a bit physically taxing, thanks to the challenge of wearing hazmat suits and endless oozes of perspiration from every nooks and crannies of my body.
We bade goodbye to our patients signalling the change of roster, and we are returned with gratitude, and sometimes, tears. We gave words of encouragement to them and hope have brought smile in their hearts to hopefully hasten their recovery.
ENCOURAGEMENT to other UNDEREMPLOYED NURSES
The pandemic is our greatest fear in our field of practice. We have nothing but thin shield of clothing as barrier between us and chance of infection. But this pandemic has brought us, health workers, to the limelight and it stressed our importance to the community in general. There is already a call for us to return in all fronts of health care, from critical care to community care. Despite the hardships our frontliners encountered during the start of the pandemic, they still proudly continue with sleeves rolled up, ready to save lives again. Let the flame of Nightingale ignite your spirits and lend that healing hand.