Covid19 Graduate Nurse

We are fortunate to introduce Amber who is a graduate nurse on an orthpaedic/trauma ward that has now also become a COVID 19 ward. 

My Experiences as a graduate nurse on a COVID ward……

I began my Graduate Nursing Program in early February of this year on an orthopaedic and trauma ward. I began to settle into my new career and role as a Grad RN, whilst I was watching on the news and my social media the horrors in China and Europe of the COVID 19 crisis. I will be honest I naively thought ‘we’re too far away, and it won’t come here to Australia’, but as time would tell I would be mistaken.

A week passed and as Australia received its first cases, and the whole country and its public hospital systems were preparing for an influx; it was revealed that my ward was to be a COVID ward. Immediately we started moving patients and preparing for all we needed to know for COIVD 19.

At this point as every health care professional, I was worried, I was worried that my inexperience would make me a weak target for the virus and impair my ability to care for my patients under the circumstances. To the credit of the amazing team of nurses on the floor and my grad support team, I never felt more supported and encouraged in my life.

Thus far my nursing career can be measured up to 3 months, meaning that nearly 2/3rd’s of my nursing career to date has been related to COVID. Despite this short amount of time, the things that I have learnt clinically and personally through this pandemic is skills and assets that would have taken me many more months if not years of experience and exposure to learn.

As a Grad working with patients suspected or positive COVID 19 initially was daunting, but I soon learnt that the best way to learn was to ask, to question and to dive straight in and learn from experience. That is exactly what I did. By doing this not only expanded my knowledge, but furthered my skills on problems solving, planning for potential problems, and grouping my care so I could provide as much care as possible with little interaction.

Examples of this include that I was the first nurse on my ward to transfer a COVID patient from ED to our ward, and I had to plan and work out how to keep my PPE clean so I could safely transfer the patient through the hospital. Further, I was the first nurse to have a MET call in a COVID room, where we devised a plan to have a clean nurse and doctor outside the room, and a dirty nurse and doctor inside the room; this in itself provided challenges with communication and safely accessing the equipment that we needed, but we provided the same standard of care under duress conditions.

Ultimately, we as a collective team and profession had to learn as we came across each challenge which not only made myself and those around me more adaptable but challenged all our initiatives to provide the same standard of care whilst preserving our own personal contact, unnecessary equipment and of course PPE. But as I mentioned before at the start of this crisis I was beyond a nervous wreck, but I cannot deny that this experience has exposed me to a type of nursing that not many grads or nurses for that matter ever get exposed too. Although the crisis has devastated the world for many a reason, I always try to see the better in each situation, and I have grown professionally and clinically as a result.

I still believe that everything happens for a reason. I was meant to start nursing this year, with this year 2020 being the Year of the nurse, and I was meant to be on this ward and nursing patients potentially or with COVID. I know that nursing will be seen differently after this crisis lifts, for the better I hope, but I know that the nursing that I have done during the COVID 19 pandemic will set me in good stead for the rest of my civilian and military nursing careers.