Sophia '20 shares clinical experience during COVID-19

                         Sophia Tielman Hebner '20 



How has your experience been at clinical during this pandemic?

Clinical has definitely been a little bit different since all of the COVID-19 precautions were implemented and the hospital really started preparing for an influx of patients. We now get our temperature taken before entering the hospital and patients are only allowed to have a single visitor. In preparation, fewer beds on our unit were filled which also gave the unit a bit of a different feeling. We also had to be sure to use masks only when absolutely necessary as we didn’t have many and weren’t sure when we would be able to get more. The unit also received training on donning and doffing PPE for COVID-19 as well as how to properly use PAPRs (Powered Air Purifying Respirators). This pandemic has also further shown me just how incredible the healthcare professionals I work with are. The support among the team has been really outstanding.

What does a usual day look like for you?

The usual clinical day itself hasn’t changed too much. I typically get to the unit a little bit before 0700 and find out what patients my preceptor and I have been assigned and then spend whatever time I have before morning huddle looking them up. Then it’s morning huddle with the night shift charge and the day shift nurses. After that, we get handoff from the night shift, meet our patients, and spend a bit more time looking them up and getting an outline for our day! We determine what order we should see our patients in and then dive in on assessments and med pass. The rest of the day is guided by the patients we have, what care and medications they need and addressing anything else that comes up. We also make a real effort to take breaks and lunch so that we are taking care of ourselves too. In the afternoon, we give report and any relevant updates about our patients to the charge nurse and continue with patient care. Then in the evening we give handoff to the nightshift nurses and head home!

Have you been involved with caring for patients with COVID-19?

I was never intentionally involved in caring for patients with COVID-19. The hospital I was at was working to place COVID-19 positive patients on one specific unit that had been prepped to handle them or in the ICU if that was necessary. However, I did provide care for a patient that later did test positive for COVID-19. At the time, we had no idea that the patient was positive and so all of the precautions that would have normally been in place weren’t there. This also meant that no one was wearing PPE when they provided care and that we all had definitely been exposed. Finding out was a bit surreal to be honest. This took place just as the precautions and the pandemic itself was really ramping up and even though I was aware of it, as a student,  I don’t think I really anticipated being directly exposed at any point. It really did show me how much I valued being on the unit I was on and what an amazing capstone experience I was having, though. The potential of being removed from my clinical reinforced how much I wanted to be there.

Are you still excited to enter the nursing profession? 

I am still incredibly excited to enter the nursing profession! It really is a privilege to be able to come into people’s lives at a time when they likely aren’t feeling their best and do my part to make things a bit easier for them and help them heal. Nursing also has this incredible balance between science and human interaction that I love. It requires me to think critically on a scientific level and also pushes me to meet my patient where they are at on a personal level. Nursing is such a rewarding profession and it encourages me to keep growing every day.

What are you doing to stay mindful and focused during this stressful time?

To stay mindful and focused I am attempting to keep to my normal routine as much as possible while incorporating social distancing and other precautions. I’m also trying to set goals on what I want to accomplish each day in regards to homework and job applications to keep myself focused!

Final Thoughts

I know that I personally, and a lot of the other seniors, are definitely still working through the idea that we aren’t going to be able to celebrate our last semester of college and graduation the way we anticipated. I’m letting myself take some time to process this while also trying to keep in mind that hopefully pretty soon all my fellow classmates and I will have the BSN, RN behind our names that we’ve all been working so hard towards!