Cohorted Cult bring you real-life interviews from those working directly on the front line during the Coronavirus pandemic. Introducing Jade, an Intensive Care Nurse working throughout COVID-19. Stay Safe, #StayHome.
1. Background Info: Name, Age, Job Role
My name is Jade, I’m 22 years old and I am an Intensive Care Registered Nurse.
2. What made you want to become a nurse?
Growing up, I actually wanted to become a midwife. This was always my career goal, however, I ended up in nursing and I believe this is due to my own personal experiences in life. I thrive when I’m challenged, and I loved the thought of every working day being completely different. The idea of me being able to help people in one way or another brings me happiness.
3. What is an average day for your job role?
An average day very much varies in the world of the Intensive Therapy Unit. I look after critically unwell patients, who can deteriorate at any given moment. Most of the time, my patients are either sedated and/or, on a ventilator, (life support machine). It is normally one nurse to one patient ratio in the ITU, depending on how unwell the patient is and how much attention is needed. There are so many aspects to monitor; with multiple infusions, the ventilator, observations every hour and vital sign monitoring, it can be overwhelming. So, it’s safe to say there is a lot of equipment, tubing and lines, but a lot of my job is also supporting the family of loved ones, building relationships with them.
4. What is the new reality of working on the front line as a nurse, in the current climate?
COVID-19 has been a shocker to my year, and I’m sure it impacted everyone else’s lives too, one way or another. My wedding has been cancelled, moving into our house was delayed and my honeymoon postponed, so luck hasn’t been on my side. I have been so anxious at work, as being a newly qualified nurse in ITU is overwhelming at the best of times, but as a unit, we are getting through this together. We have seen the worst of COVID-19, with patients who are critically unwell going into multi-organ failure; every shift it has been non-stop, and it feels so much longer and harder in the PPE we are provided. We have been short of staff, which is rare in ITU, meaning that the ratio of patients to the staff we can be looking at is up to 3/4 ventilated patients. It’s is so scary, especially due to how unwell these patients are, with the majority of them have been proned (laying on their front) whilst on a ventilator, to help with lung expansion and increase oxygenation; This is hard work in itself and requires many team members to help do it. As a team, we have seen deaths as a result of COVID-19, but having patients recover has been a big motivator. There have been many breakdowns at work and at home, it is emotionally and physically draining, but we carry on and work together as a team to do our best.
5. Have the PPE shortages personally impacted the way you work/people around you?
We have been lucky in ITU to have full PPE, however, it could change on a day to day basis as to what we wear, due to the shortages of PPE; Different types of masks have different lifelines and can only last for 4 hours until it must be changed. It’s hard when the PPE is changed daily and is a problem because it’s just as important to apply and take off the PPE correctly and safely.
6. What have been the most difficult/personal moments for you?
My most difficult moments have been having more than one ventilated patient, as it’s impossible to keep an eye on them both at the same time; when their oxygen levels are both going down at the same time, then it comes down to prioritisation and management. Personal moments are looking after patients who are 40-50 years old, who have unfortunately passed away and their families cannot be there to say goodbye. It breaks my heart how common this is at the moment and I can really empathise with these families, knowing just how difficult this could even be. Looking after patients who are in multi-organ failure require maximum support for their organs and you feel as though you are just chasing your tail all day to try and keep the patient alive. It’s a massive responsibility for sure.
7. Have there been times where you wanted to do more, but have been held back due to lack of resources?
There have definitely been times when I’ve wanted to give more personal care to our patients or even just to comfort their families; it’s hard to give them reassurance, as the patient’s condition changes on a day to day basis. However, due to staff shortage and the number of patients to nurse ratio, it has been sometimes near impossible to give personal care. Patients can quickly deteriorate and it’s a battle to keep them alive for some shifts, that’s the harsh reality of it. You always wish you can do more as a nurse but as long as you’ve tried your best, that’s all that matters.
8. With that said, have YOU had any rewarding moments which helps motivate you?
Definitely! Amazing teamwork in the ITU is everything. Of course, we all have our moments where we cry and laugh together, but this bonds us all and it helps keep us going. A rewarding moment for me has been watching patients recover and go to the ward from ITU, especially when they have been so poorly.
9. How has this pandemic influenced your home life?
It’s very much changed the dynamic of the house. My skin is so sore from constant hand washing and wearing the PPE the mask is making my face so spotty and dry! With nursing, it’s important to switch off from work but it’s difficult when we can’t go out and occupy ourselves to do so! Everything that’s going on does put things into perspective. We value family members and friends more than ever and I think it’s taught everyone to be a little more grateful and appreciative of the little things.
10. What do you do to maintain your self-care routine, to encourage relaxation at the end of the day? – Netflix and chill or maintain a regular routine?
I think it’s really difficult to switch off from work and I am an over–thinker – I haven’t learnt how to cope with that yet. When I get a spare moment, I will have a bath with a face mask on, go for a dog walk and spend time with my fiancé. I’ve treated myself to so much make up (oops), but I can’t wait for the post-COVID-19 glow up!