As a nursing student looking ahead at my career, Covid-19 may be my best professor I have yet had. Professor Covid-19 is teaching me how to be a leader, and the difference from a good nurse from an exceptional nurse in assessing and responding to a situation. It has taught that everything will not be okay if I continue with my assumptions that someone else will protect me. I think of myself, sitting in lecture weeks ago wondering how I ever assumed that as a nurse, it would be okay to rely upon others to assess a situation. I ask myself, what societal and academic influences gave way to the habit I see in myself and many others of counting on someone else to critically think and perform a thorough assessment.
I vaguely remember hearing something about MERS and getting it confused with SARS—I figured they were the same disease, but really, what did it matter? I would be protected, along with everyone else in the developed world. Epidemics and outbreaks don’t happen here.
I glanced at the H1N1 signs posted at my community college in search of the poster advertising a house-warming party. Someone else is assessing that situation. The college and health care leaders will protect us students.
The siren alarms went off with Ebola and as a good student of life, I already knew that I didn’t need to critically think about it. I’d be just fine, and I was. Sorry Africa. It’s just that we have special people protecting us.
As a CNA, I see many nurses who have a similar attitude as I did. They were the ones that do a minimal assessment and apply little or no critical thinking to their work. It appeared to me that this someone else wasn’t these nurses.
I graduate with my Entry-BSN in a matter of months. The idea that assessing and responding to outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics, are activities that others perform was months away from becoming part of my practice as a nurse. God forbid it became my management philosophy. I had a few brave professors at school that told me that the likelihood of an emergency was great, but it didn’t matter to me, nor my classmates. The professors didn’t understand that each of my life experiences differed from their alarmist, paranoid, unnecessarily stressed, pessimistic way of looking at life. Those wise professors stood out as the few and far between and some students made fun of them behind their back. We might as well have said, “Pandemics and stuff like that doesn’t happen to us, professor, and if it did, someone else would protect us. Can we go back to reviewing the indications of Zyprexa. That will be on the test, right?”
I now see that my real Professor goes by the name of Covid-19 and he has given me my Zyprexa. I am on lockdown along with billions of people. I now know that this stuff happens, and it has happened many times. I didn’t assess the situation, nor did I critically think things through. It isn’t that that events like this don’t happen to us in the developed world, rather, these events happen quite often and until recently, we are fortunate that intelligent others protected us from the several outbreaks over the years. Now, Professor Covid-19 has taught me, and hopefully several of us, that this someone else is me, my classmates, and all other nurses that relied upon someone else to perform assessments and critically think.
The Level-1 Trauma center that I work at has played a key role in leading our region in flattening-the-curve, at least so far. We have leadership that began preparing before most hospital systems and governments did. As a CNA and nursing student, I witnessed the hard and unpopular work (some would call virtuous work). I also witness the nurses and other health care workers who were to join me in this class taught by Professor Covid-19. They are those that copy previous shifts’ assessments, rely on others to critically think about their patients’ treatments and outcomes and those that assumed that due to our status as health care professionals, we didn’t need to prepare when Professor Covid-19’s class was called-to-order.
As nurses and future nurses, let’s learn from this. Many health care professionals and nurses didn’t do well on this test. As for me, I plan on getting an A on the ensuing tests by Covid-19 and his fellow instructors by properly assessing and critically thinking like nurse are taught to do in each situation whether small or large and preparing for such.