NVNSA Quarterly Blog
Welcome to the NVNSA Quarterly Blog!
This a space desingned to get our thoughts and Ideas out there to our community. Each Quarter, a new blog will be posted by either a NVNSA representative, or by a guest author. If you are interested in contributing to the blog as a guest author, please contact us at email@example.com
What it is Like to be a Nursing Student in Post-Pandemic Times
By Alyssa Anderson
Fall In Northern Nevada is one of my favorite times of the year. Here in the Sierra Nevadas, we call this time of year "bipolar weather season" because you can go to class wearing a tank top and sunglasses and walk out of class needing a down jacket and ski goggles. The leaves begin to change color quickly before they fall off, and the city transforms with these vibrant colors into winter.
As nursing students, this time of year excites us because it means that we are getting closer to graduating (the start of a new semester), and we get to drink massive amounts of pumpkin-flavored coffees. We drone on and on, writing essay after essay and studying for a test after test. But then, once we pay our debts to the textbook lords, we get to go to clinical... where... let's face it, we learn the most. We follow our clinical instructors into the units, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to see some cool stuff finally!
The clinical experience should be exciting and inspiring and where we get to put everything from theory into practice. But recently, it seems as though things have changed...
Anyone working in health care pre-pandemic knows that things have changed. Nurses are leaving the bedside and the career altogether in droves for many reasons. Nurses are burnt out from the pandemic, and it is mentally and physically exhausting. This is exacerbated by staffing shortages and the feeling of being undervalued by their administrators. They are forcefully placed into unsafe working conditions because if they don't, they cannot provide for their families and the patients who desperately need their care. Staff nurses are severely underpaid, leading to a more significant shortage and a greater need for travel nurses who are paid a much higher hourly wage. Lastly, they are not rewarded, and their morale is low (Bertagna, 2022). They rarely get "thank you" or "good job" from leadership and even patients... but if they are 5 minutes late to a shift, they are reprimanded. They get a small yearly raise and a pizza party as a thank you.
There is plenty of reasons why nurses are upset. They deserve to be. But this has a severe effect on us, students, as well. We walk into the facility excited to learn, work with our preceptor, and be challenged on theory, pharm, and our fundamentals. We have worked so hard and for so long to be at the bedside, and the day has finally come! Until it hasn't.
We have been told we should walk away. Give up. Stop while we can. Our nurses hate students and hate being nurses. They have no hope in health care and no more emotion to blatantly lie to us and tell us it is all roses and sunshine. It breaks our hearts.
I decided to go to nursing school after I witnessed the pandemic firsthand in the ER. And I am still here because I know my heart, passion, and energy can help return this career to what it used to be...Me, I see nurses as powerful. They are intelligent, articulate, loving, and empathetic. Nurse are advocates for what is right and what is wrong. They want to share their experiences and passion for nursing with anyone who will listen because they may empower someone to change for the better.
I know these last few years have been astonishingly tough on healthcare. But now more than ever, nurses need to unite and form a community.
Together, Nurses are powerful. Together, they can make a change. Together, they can empower nursing students to help change the future.
Being a nursing student in a post-pandemic world has been awful. But instead of being down in the dumps over your experience, advocate for yourself and alternate ways to gain an excellent clinical experience. Shadow nurses, find SNAP jobs, or volunteer.
My motto is "you can't advocate for your patient if you can't first advocate for yourself"... and for what's right.
Call to action: Next time you are at clinical... be empathetic. Tell them you appreciate them more than they could imagine. Remind them that we are working so hard so we can come and help them get the career they dreamed of the back. We have to learn so that we can be their support.
See you all in the winter!
Reference: Bertagna, B. (2022). 15 Top Reasons Why Nurses are Leaving the Profession. Nursing Process.org. Retrieved from:https://www.nursingprocess.org/why-are-nurses-leaving-the-profession.html