As the COVID-19 crisis continues, we wanted to take a moment to share your experiences so far, your overwhelming courage and support for one another, and a few messages from a grateful and admiring public
You can also read this in our latest issue of RCN Bulletin, which has a special focus on COVID-19, containing key employment advice and information on how the RCN is fighting to protect you at this crucial time.
We're in this together
Messages of support and encouragement between students and nursing staff have been flooding Facebook this week. Here's a selection:
"We would be very honoured to have students step up and help us in a registered and *paid* role if this becomes the case. We see you, we recognise how skilled you are, and how valuable you are. The idea of nursing in an epidemic is a scary one, but it’s the grim reality we face – and all of you still coming into placement and trying to help how you can are heroes!"
"Student nurses are just as important, just as vital and very much needed. You guys will be the toughest lot of nurses going because of what you had to bravely step up and face so early on in your career. It's OK to say this is scary because it is. You are all amazing, kind-hearted souls otherwise you wouldn't be in this profession."
Keep doing what you’re doing, stay safe and be damn proud of yourself
"This pandemic makes me want to be a nurse more than ever. It’s tough and it’s only going to get tougher, but if I can just help by unloading some of the burden off the amazing qualified nurses I will. I only ask that patience is given and that we are respected."
Student nurse Caroline
"Many of us first years are signing up as bank HCA staff. We are here to support you all, as you do us. We are here and in it together."
Student nurse Samantha
"Everyone needs to just pull together, support each other and try and muddle on through what is going to be an extremely tough time. Keep doing what you’re doing, stay safe and be damn proud of yourself!"
Returning to clinical practice
Kim Tolley is one of many registered nurses who's made the brave choice to return to clinical practice to support their colleagues on the frontline. She takes us through her first few days back on the job
Volunteering to step up and work in intensive care again after a 25-year break felt like a very big move. But when COVID-19 hit, it seemed obvious that even my rusty intensive care skills would be useful.
The staff welcomed me with open arms. I reported for duty, put on scrubs and was orientated to the unit. I learnt to ‘don and doff’ the full personal protective equipment, undertook simulations to correctly place patients in the prone position and refreshed my knowledge of managing cardiac arrest.
As the day went on, the gravity of the crisis I was about to face hit me. I felt tearful and had to call a good ex-nurse friend to reassure me.
But the following day I was allocated to work with a very experienced ICU nurse. And what did I learn? That the principles of good nursing care are timeless. Regular and effective communication with patients and the multidisciplinary team remains as important now as it ever was. Technical aspects of the role have actually changed very little.
If you’re thinking of returning to nursing, it’s a big decision to make, but so many parts of the nurse’s role are constant and familiar, and your nursing colleagues will welcome you as part of the team. I can’t deny that I’m really scared about what is to come and how I will cope, but it’s a privilege to be able to help.
You’re worth your weight in gold right now. We need you more than ever and I want you to know you’re not alone, the people are absolutely behind you
What you've been saying, how you've been feeling
The unexpected enemy of loneliness
I’ve been a nurse for a grand total of one month and three weeks. COVID-19 is hitting us, and I’ve barely had a chance to settle into my role. My confidence is low. All I can do is my best, but will that be enough when it really counts?
And then there’s social distancing. I can’t see my parents or my gramp, and even my husband screens me. I don’t blame him at all – we’re all trying to prevent the spread. But I’m getting lonely.
I’m a nurse that looks after everyone else’s family members, in my mask, gown, gloves and goggles. Who’s going to look after me?
Victoria on personal blog; read in full
Forced off the frontline
I am a frontline paeds intensive care nurse but am having to isolate for 12 weeks as I’m a high risk individual. I feel beyond guilty that I cannot use my skills to support my patients and colleagues during this time but I hope by staying safe and well I’ll be better able to help at the other side of this.
Lucy on Twitter
Small acts of kindness
Thank you Tesco for letting NHS staff have an hour this morning to get their essentials. This nurse nearly cried at the checkout, but unlike the nurse who went viral on social media, my tears were of relief. I can now go to work knowing I have food for my family.
Kelly Hitchcock on Twitter
Ready for the fight
Friends and family members have asked me if I regret my career choice at the moment. I did perhaps…for one split second. Yes, we have difficult times ahead but in many ways we are the lucky ones. For starters our jobs are safe, in fact there may well be more work than we can cope with. Secondly, we get to care for people when they’re at their weakest and most vulnerable. Let me tell you, and I know I speak for all nurses, this is one of the biggest honours there is.
I waved goodbye to my mum this week knowing that I may well not see her for a few months. I felt like she was packing me off for war. I guess she was in a funny kind of way. This is a war. And it’s a war I’m ready to fight in. Come at us COVID-19, you won’t be met with doctors and nurses, instead you will be met by warriors ready to fight you until the bitter end.
'I couldn’t be more in awe of everyone who looked after me during such a stressful time'
Therese was taken to hospital after suffering with symptoms of COVID-19; she tells us how incredible all the health care staff who looked after her were
An hour after calling the 111 call-back service, I was in hospital being taken straight into a single isolation room. Immediately, two staff nurses came to me to take observations, perform an ECG and get blood samples. They explained everything and listened carefully to what I was telling them. I was told I would be sent home if my “numbers” were stable because they had to reserve beds for the most serious and those needing constant ventilation.
I was given drugs to protect against pneumonia, had a portable chest x-ray in my isolation room and a full set of nasal swabs taken. After observing me for six hours, I was allowed to go home to self-isolate.
Every single person I came into contact with acted with extreme professionalism, kindness, attentiveness and precision. They were confident and ultra-calm, explaining everything with clarity and knowledge.
As a nurse myself, it breaks my heart that there are nursing staff in hospitals right now holding the hands of patients as they die because they can’t have loved ones with them. It takes untold strength to do this. I couldn’t be more in awe of everyone who looked after me during such a stressful time, from the call centre staff right through to the support worker who brought me juice and tea. Thank you.
Head to our COVID-19 information and guidance pages, which we're continuously updating to support you.