Starting a Nursing Career During a Pandemic

Submitted by McGill University
October 7, 2020

How do you react when you know you are writing history? In my short life, I asked myself this question often; in history class, reading the news, looking at architecture. I have lived through historic events, however, I was never truly aware of it and certainly not apart of it. SARS-CoV-2 has made every one of us part of history books. In March, when the virus first arrived in Canada, I was starting the final internship of my nursing degree. In the blink of an eye, non-essential shops, theatres, offices, and schools were closed until further notice in my province. After the shock, I decided to put my knowledge to use. I enrolled full time as a night shift beneficiary attendant while completing my nursing studies. I was part of a team that reopened an old hospital that had closed a few years ago. It was a surreal experience, we were building as we went and paired team-work with innovation with a lot of care for our patients’ well-being. Upon completion of my degree, I started working at the Covid-19 unit of a central hospital in Montreal. I was touched by the strength and unity amongst the personnel of this unit. They took me under their wing and guided me, shared their experience and mistakes with me. Covid patients, the forgotten, isolated and feared patients, have also taught me so much. The strength of family, and the pain of being apart from them. The trust they put in us, when we don’t know anything about this new virus, still they welcomed our care. We were tired and uncertain, all of us, plagued by an unknown killer. Lessons learned from this experience: when reopening an old hospital, when starting a new career, when working on a hot unit, when partnering in care, when fighting a pandemic, we cannot work alone. Though we are isolated from each other, working together to stop the spread of the virus and protect each other has never been more vital. I hope that along with the horrors, mistakes and frenzy we are going through, history books remember and honour our unity, and I hope you will too.