Working in the Frontlines

Submitted by Mcgill University
October 26, 2020

Working in the Frontlines

I interviewed a friend who started working as a graduated nurse since July, and is now a registered nurse. She briefly shared with me her experience working in the frontlines amid this pandemic. What she had to say is similar to what we often hear in the news or on social media.

At first, the personal protective equipment provided at the hospital were one-time use disposable items however, now they use non-disposable gowns where they dispose them in the laundry bin after one-time use. The personal protective equipment is sufficient on the unit, and she enjoys her career as a nurse. She and her co-workers try and stay as positive and up-lifting as they can be every shift, since they all understand that they are in this together.

Unfortunately, though she loves her job, she is experiencing burn out. Her unit is short-staffed, and she constantly feels the need to do over time in order to help out. Not only that, she remarked that as a nurse, the media plays these essential workers as “heroes”, but she feels as though she is disposable. The feelings she gets when she comes into work is that she is only there to work, and the moment she can no longer work, she can be replaced. She defends her co-workers and peers, clarifying that they are all in this pandemic together and that they work as an efficient team. However, the reality stands that at the end of the day, many of them feel as though they are disposable and management does not care that these nurses are actual people who are nurses – rather these are nurses and they need to get to work, or be replaced by someone else who can do their job.

This is disheartening for her as she has dreamed of becoming a nursing for a long time now, but she continues to push through because she knows that there is more to nursing that this.

When I questioned her as to what she has learnt throughout this pandemic and being a frontline and essential worker, the firs thing she stated was that there are much more uneducated people out there than she would have ever fathomed. She has encountered many people who are heavily misinformed about this virus and the precautions measures that have been placed as a safety measure in both her professional life, and her personal life. She goes as far as to state that there is a “flagrant lack of education and misinformation in the public” that is no doubt, borderline terrifying.