Opinion: Being a nurse in the pandemic is extremely discouraging, but it's a wonderful career

Jan 11 2023, 12:54 am

Written for Daily Hive by Kamille Ali, Registered Nurse Clinician for Hospice and Palliative Care in BC. 

All I have seen for the past 2.5 years is the negativity surrounding the nursing profession. I have seen countless Instagram accounts dedicated to the ruination of nursing as a whole being disguised as dark humour.

I see comments underneath these posts asking, “Is nursing really that bad? I am thinking of going to nursing school,” to which there are endless responses like, “Yes, it is that bad.” “RUN!” and so on.

I have been nursing for 10 years, and I always ask the same question when I see this type of commentary: what gets someone into nursing in the first place? This is what I came back to during my time as a nurse in a global pandemic.

I work in palliative care. For me, being able to help my patients have a dignified death, devising plans so that their loved ones could be near them during their last moments, advocating for adequate resources at home and in the community, and forming bonds with strangers. Those are the moments that got me through the pandemic, and those are the moments that continue to get me up every morning, and I look forward to being present at work.

The medical system is not perfect — far from it. The idea of health districts and top-heavy management models, the lack of clarity and communication between superiors and staff, and the moment a nurse arrives on shift and realizes he or she is basically running the show alone — these are the things that harden someone.

They take away from the essence of what nursing care is, but these are not the stressors that define me and why I became a nurse.

From being referred to as “healthcare heroes” to having it be a rare occurrence to hear anyone talk about the good sides of nursing, all within a couple of years, is extremely discouraging.

Nursing allows me and countless others to contribute to society every day, and this is what I want to shine a light on. It is important for me to project the positive sides of this profession because this will encourage our future generation of nurses to enter the field with pride.

Nursing has given me the opportunity to give back every time I step into the office. The chance to help people from all walks of life, people of all races and cultures, and people of different upbringings. It has allowed me to learn valuable lessons from my patients and their loved ones.

Nursing has allowed me to become resilient in the face of unthinkable tragedy; it has given me the ability to think quickly and become an instant problem solver. As much as I have been able to provide throughout my career, nursing has also given me countless opportunities. Nursing has given me some of my best friends.

It has allowed me to travel the world and given me the flexibility to accomplish personal goals at a young age. Nursing has given me perspective on life and health; it has given me countless laughs with team members and even some tears, and every single day it continues to give me the gift of knowledge. That in itself is priceless.

Going into this New Year, I want to remind every single nurse to remember your ‘why.’ Whatever reasoning guided you into this profession, hold on to that.

We do not have power over politics, staffing levels, or superiors’ choices, but we have control over the moments that give us hope, strength, and purpose.

Those moments will continue and inspire countless others to follow in our footsteps.

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