When news of a novel coronavirus began to circulate, the healthcare community prepared. As an emergency department and trauma nurse since 2015, I felt ready. The unknown and unexpected is quite literally my job.
I graduated from the University of Mobile twice, first with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and secondly with my Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner. When I accepted a travel nurse position in California after completing the FNP boards, I fully expected to work and explore the West while searching for FNP jobs. It felt like a productive way to work and play, and it was most certainly that until the novel coronavirus outbreak, otherwise known as COVID-19. California declared a state of emergency, and the emergency department I am working for fully transformed into a coronavirus-prepared facility.
Working a pandemic is like nothing that I have ever experienced before. Work is certainly unprecedented, with hazard tents in parking lots, plastic-lined rooms inside, and shelter in place orders issued by the government for our protection. Taking care of patients is the same, just with heightened precautions and more restrictions.
During this COVID-19 outbreak, I regularly use the skills and knowledge in my daily practice that I learned from all the clinical courses throughout the undergraduate and graduate School of Nursing programs at the University of Mobile. I am applying the tools learned in the quality and safety healthcare courses, along with the advocacy training from health policy in advanced nursing practice courses.
Caring for patients is what we do best, but no one could ever really anticipate the global scale of impact that this virus has had on equipment shortage. As a healthcare professional, my biggest concerns echo others in that the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a huge issue. Realizing that the CDC/ OSHA have moved from contingency capacity practices to crisis capacity practices during this pandemic to approve alternative strategies for PPE can be quite concerning. We want to take care of you and your loved ones in the best way we can, but equally want to have the proper equipment and protection so that we stay safe and avoid spreading germs to ourselves and our loved ones.
If you ask a healthcare professional why they chose the field they did, most will tell you that they felt called to it. For many, healthcare is a passion. For others, healthcare is a niche, but for all who are a part of it, know that it takes a special type of person to dedicate their livelihood to serving others during some of their most vulnerable times. Healthcare workers get to experience all stages of life with others, from health and happiness to grief, trauma and sadness. My jobs have always trained me to prepare for the worst, because you can’t afford not to with someone’s life on the line.
Through all the shortcomings that are being highlighted on a global scale, I feel confident that this is only going to make us better, not only in the healthcare realm, but as a nation, to be better prepared for any events like this that may arise in the future. Adapt, learn, and overcome!
Being a UM grad, the faith-based approach and foundation to my professional calling has kept my spirits up during this time and allowed me to go forth with confidence as I advocate for proper PPE for myself and my co-workers, so that we can continue to work on the front lines of this pandemic caring for you and your loved ones. Now, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands!