Nursing students digging deep in health care too
Budding professionals detail struggles at medical facilitiesSunday, September 19, 2021
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
Though student nurses say they are not placed on COVID-19 wards at the major hospitals to complete clinical rotations, they explained that they still endure tough challenges caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
However, the nursing students who attend The University of the West Indies (UWI) School of Nursing (UWISON), Mona, told the Jamaica Observer that the challenges are not enough to deter them from discontinuing their field of study. Instead, they have been prompted to defy the odds.
The students assist at health facilities while under supervision of the registered nurses. They also care for two to three patients per eight- or 12-hour shift daily.
For 31-year-old Alicia Grant, student nurses representative of UWISON, who is in her fourth year, she described the health facilities as “war zones with limited resources and burnt-out soldiers”.
Grant said she completed clinical rotations at National Chest Hospital, Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), and Spanish Town Hospital.
“Patients are resistant to adhering to the COVID-19 policy by giving various complaints as to why they cannot comply; hence, we are always encouraging compliance in regard to mask-wearing, sanitising, and frequent washing of hands with soap and water, as well as social distancing,” she said.
“I can truly appreciate working amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and assisting the nurses, especially when the wards are short-staffed due to nurses falling ill or being placed in quarantine. The nurses are sincerely elated when they see us, as we are extra pairs of helping hands, alleviating some of the burdens they carry,” she added.
Grant said she had the most challenging experience at Spanish Town Hospital where she spent a lot of her time performing duties, especially since they have a limited number of staff members.
“This was where I began the real core practices of nursing. The staff shortage prevented adequate supervision of student nurses performing procedures, so I was unable to complete those procedures. That led to many activities required on the student competency checklist not completed,” she said.
But Grant said she remains resilient despite the many obstacles, as “nursing is not just a career for me but a passion”.
“Yes, it can be very scary, due to this highly contagious virus and asymptomatic individuals around, but it is just for us as students to try our utmost best to take the necessary precautions when we are out on the battlefield. I believe this experience prepares me for the day I become a registered nurse, allowing me to rise to any occasion, due to the earned experiences on the wards during this pandemic. There were always nurse heroes, and now, there are student nurse heroes, like myself,” said Grant.
Third-year student Yoshika Johnson, who does clinical rotation at KPH, said she developed more appreciation for health-care workers when she started to pursue nursing.
“Being a patient, it made me feel like they [health-care workers] could be doing better. Now I realise that everybody in the medical field is doing their best, especially in a public hospital setting, where it is very overcrowded and you don't really get a break. My experience on the inside is very eye-opening and it makes you appreciate life more, because patients come in daily and it makes you scared because one day you're here doing okay and the next day life changes,” she said.
“If you have a love for nursing, it is not going to make you reconsider your profession but, of course, it is very draining. Working in this pandemic is scary, but I know I am going to be recognised for the extra mile that I am going,” she stated.
Even though she enjoys her duty of helping sick people, she wishes the Government could provide more assistance for nurses.
“It is sad that you are working very hard and putting yourself out there, making sacrifices day after day. I would just want the Government to employ more nurses and also give them more benefits so that they don't feel like they are doing all of this work for nothing. For some nurses, after paying student loans and bills, they literally have nothing left and that adds to the depression because you are doing the best you can and you can barely earn a living from it,” she said.
Another concern was raised by a fourth-year student, who did not wish to be named.
The 22-year-old told the Sunday Observer that all nursing students are faced with the additional expense of purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Not enough is being done to protect us. Everybody knows that, once it is a medical profession you are pursuing, the school fee is a lot of money. With us not being on campus utilising the resources there, the PPE could have been provided. Most of the time you are at the hospital and gloves aren't even there,” she argued.
She also added that her experiences at a few health facilities, including Victoria Jubilee Hospital and University Hospital of the West Indies, have been mentally draining.
“Even with the strike of the nurses, as a student nurse we have to show up. Being inside here is exhausting and sometimes you don't have the resources to do what you want to do. It is still draining to see people just dying and seeing people on the outside of the hospital on oxygen,” she said.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login