The Reality of Working on the Frontlines During a Global Crisis: A Critical Care and Emergency Nurse
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." - Mahatma Gandhi
The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the world, and healthcare workers have been on the frontlines, fighting tirelessly to keep us safe. Join us for a SPOTLIGHT feature with Amala, a critical care and emergency nurse with 14 years of experience who has been there every step of the way. In this exclusive interview, Amala shares her personal and professional experience during these trying times, shedding light on the reality of working on the frontlines during a global crisis. Discover how she coped with the immense stress of their jobs, and the importance of self-care and mindfulness practices in maintaining their emotional and physical health. This is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the sacrifices made by healthcare workers and the need for greater mental health support in the industry.
Can you tell us about your experience as a nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic? How has it affected you personally and professionally?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a life-altering experience for me as a critical care and emergency nurse for the past 14 years. Every day felt like a new challenge, with so much uncertainty and anxiety surrounding the virus. As a frontliner, I felt like the gatekeeper, the first line of defense against this invisible enemy. But as the days went by, I realized that we were all in this together, and we had to support each other to get through this crisis.
Personally, the pandemic affected me deeply. I was always worried about bringing the virus home to my family, and I had to take extra precautions to keep them safe. It was a constant struggle to balance my responsibilities as a nurse with my personal obligations. However, despite all the challenges, I knew that I had a duty to serve my patients and my community.
Professionally, the pandemic made me realise the importance of teamwork and camaraderie. We had to work together to manage the influx of patients and provide the best care possible. I also reached out to my international nursing colleagues, offering them a helping hand and a listening ear. Through this crisis, I gained a new appreciation for the nursing profession and the vital role we play in society. Despite the difficulties, I remained humble and confident, knowing that I was doing my part to make a difference.
Many healthcare workers have reported experiencing COVID fatigue or burnout. Have you experienced this, and if so, how have you managed it? Do you practise mindfulness or meditation to help you cope?
The COVID-19 pandemic was a defining moment in my career as a healthcare professional. As a frontliner, I was thrust into an unfamiliar territory, dealing with an unpredictable virus that had no known cure. It was a time of great uncertainty and fear, and at times, it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Despite the challenges, I was determined to push through and remain strong for my patients and colleagues. I knew that I had to take care of myself both physically and emotionally if I wanted to continue to provide the best care possible. It was a difficult journey, but through daily meditation and journaling, I found the strength to keep going.
Looking back, I am grateful for the experience as it has taught me so much about resilience and perseverance. I feel more confident and capable as a healthcare professional, and I know that I can face any challenge that comes my way. The pandemic may have been a dark time, but it has also shown me the strength and resilience of the human spirit.
What steps do you take to prioritise self-care and maintain your physical and emotional health while working on the frontlines of the pandemic? Do you incorporate mindfulness practices into your self-care routine?
The sunrise and sunset routine has been a lifeline for me during these unprecedented times. As a nurse, the stress levels were at an all-time high, and it was easy to lose myself in the chaos. But I realised that I needed to take care of myself first in order to take care of my patients. So, I developed a strict routine that involved long walks, meditation, and journaling.
Journaling has been especially helpful for me. It's like talking to a friend who won't judge you. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I take out my journal and write down my thoughts and feelings. It's a great way to declutter my mind and gain clarity. And, of course, my walks in nature are a breath of fresh air. The sound of birds chirping and the feel of the sun on my skin are small reminders that there is still beauty in the world.
In addition to my routine, I've also started listening to binaural beats frequencies while I sleep. It's a technique that helps induce a state of relaxation and promotes deep sleep. I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day. Despite the challenges that come with being a nurse during a pandemic, I remain humble and confident in my ability to provide care to those who need it most.
In the face of uncertainty and stress, how do you stay motivated and continue to provide compassionate care to your patients? Have mindfulness practices helped you maintain your motivation?
As a nurse, I believe that empathy and compassion are just as important as medical knowledge and skills. I see every patient as a member of my own family and treat them with the utmost care and attention. This mindset has helped me to build strong relationships with my patients and has enabled me to provide them with the care they need in a way that is both compassionate and effective.
In order to maintain this level of care, I have developed a range of mindfulness practices that help me stay focused and motivated. Whether it's taking a few moments to meditate before a shift or simply listening to a patient's concerns without judgment, I believe that being present in the moment is key to providing the best possible care.
In the end, I find that being kind and attentive to the needs of my patients costs nothing, but can make all the difference in the world. It's a privilege to be able to provide care to those in need, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of my patients each and every day.
Looking to the future, what changes would you like to see in the healthcare system to better support nurses and other frontline workers during times of crisis, and how can mindfulness practices play a role in this support?
As a healthcare worker, I've witnessed the toll that stress and exhaustion can take on my colleagues and myself. That's why I'm such a big believer in meditation and breath work. These practices have been essential in helping me manage my own stress levels and maintain a positive outlook. I truly believe that incorporating mindfulness-based breathing and music therapy into healthcare organizations would be incredibly beneficial for all healthcare workers.
One thing that I think is critical for healthcare workers is having time to rest and take care of our own mental health. We often work long hours and are faced with emotionally and physically demanding situations, so it's crucial that we're given the time and resources to recharge. That's why I believe that healthcare organizations should provide paid mental health rest days. These days would allow healthcare workers to take a break from work and focus on their own well-being. In the long run, I believe that taking care of our own mental health will allow us to provide even better care for our patients.
What can we do to help? One way to support healthcare workers is by advocating for mental health resources and programs that prioritise their emotional and physical well-being. Healthcare organisations should provide their employees with access to mental health professionals, counselling services, and resources to help them cope with the stresses and trauma of working during the pandemic.
Honestly, am I the only one that is shocked that there is a lack of support for the mental health of nurses who stepped up to take care of us during the time we needed most? Speaking of which, not just nurses, to all employers, please pay for mental health rest days to give your valuable assets the time they need to recharge and take care of their emotional and physical needs! Let us all do our part and continue to support our healthcare workers, their work continues!