Battling for Six Months In The Frontline: A Nurse On Duty Amidst Covid-19 Pandemic

Today, October 12, 2021, marks my 6-month long duty from my return in the clinical practice as a registered nurse in the hospital. Many of my peers and acquaintances knows that to study nursing was not really my option. It was in the year 2006 when I’m about to enter college and I’m still undecided on what course to pursue. Well, I honestly wanted to be a lawyer but my way of thinking at that time was, “Yeah, that’s too long to take and complete”. My parents then suggested on why not take nursing since we have relatives in the United States who can probably help me snatch a good job there whilst nursing was surely in demand at that time. And that’s how everything started until graduating in the year 2010 and passing the licensure board examination July of the same year.

New Nurses April 2021

It was a rocky journey. After being licensed, there’s no job vacancy to land on. Hospitals were not hiring staff nurses, unless, you’re willing to take their trainee program and/or volunteer so as to at least gain experience. The sad part, sometimes, you even have to be the one to pay the hospital in order for you to be accepted. It is an obvious and vulgar exploitation which I felt like the government never really prioritized or even managed to care. In April of 2011, I was able to land a job at a tertiary regional hospital as a Nurse Trainee for 7 months, doing the job of an actual nurse but without pay. After then, my staff and senior nurses in the department recommended me to be absorbed by the Department of Health under their RN HEALS program but will be deployed in the same hospital. I accepted the offer after the assistant chief nurse back then convinced me to stay even if I was about to start practicing in a private hospital where I got accepted as a volunteer. I never regret my decision. It was very tiring to work a hospital nurse but I had a happy and fulfilling career. When parents and relatives of patients who are about to be discharge and go home thanked you for simply doing your job right is a priceless moment. I met co-workers and colleagues who became friends and eventually became like family too, until my contract ended in December 31, 2012. Then, I managed to build a good career path in the corporate for 8 years after.

Until last year, 2020, the corona virus disease (covid) hit the world and became pandemic. All of our lives have changed. The use of facemask became just normal. I decided to return in the clinical practice April of this year 2021 for two honest reasons. First, I want to gain current experience so it may help me get an opportunity abroad and second, to join my colleagues and genuinely help in the frontline. Maybe, it was a calling. I don’t know. I am too not sure. I just felt like I have the responsibility to help in these trying times even if the cons are heavier than the pros that I may get. Some of my friends cannot believe that I left a good stable and high paying career to a tiring and low paying job. Ooops! by the way, I saw a post circulating in facebook about Philippine-deployed nurses getting the lowest salary among other countries with 40k a month. Well, that’s half true. The lowest salary part maybe true but the 40k monthly basic is seriously questionable and undeniably inaccurate.

Going back, I was assigned in the Pediatric Department like before. I started refreshing my knowledge and skills while on duty. I am very thankful to the people, especially to my shiftmates, seniors and supervisors who helped me adjust and be familiarize with the routine again. But honestly, there are too many protocols in the hospital that I have to admit that until now, I am not really familiar with, so I always ask questions. I had my fair share of help both in the regular ward and intensive care units (ICU’s) for neonates and children. I also had the chance to have my duty in the covid isolation ward twice. Whenever we are about enter the isolation ward, we are asked to be medically and mentally cleared before our set duties.

Doctors and Nurses on Covid Duty, about to shift out and rest 7/7!

Covid duty is no joke. We are obliged to work 24 hours in 7 days but with decking schedules of sleep so as to prevent fatigue. No one is allowed to go out of the premise. Food is free. Still, the work is very tiring but then again, fulfilling. I’ve witnessed how our frontline doctors, nurses, nursing attendants, respiratory therapist and others do their job even if obvious exhaustion was observed. They try so hard to help and treat the people in need even if their own self and worst, their families are at big risk in acquiring the virus. After 7 days straight duty, we are being swabbed and tested for an RT-PCR diagnostic to determine if any of us got infected with the virus. We then directly go to the assigned hotels nearby where we will spent days of quarantine until results of 2 negative RT-PCR swab were released before we can go back to our regular wards and have our duties. The 2 swabs are 5 days apart.

I’ve seen people come and go home alive. Yet, a lot of people still die everyday. It is saddening that up until this writing, many still don’t believe that corona virus disease is real and existing. Some, were convinced about this disease when it’s already too late and they’re bargaining for their lives inside covid wards and intensive care units; when they try hard to gasp for that last air and oxygen to go inside their body. Just a few weeks ago, our hospital have stopped the operation of the regular and covid emergency rooms. The medical staff asked for it if I got the news right. That is, to have them regain their energy, strength and outlook, so as to give a better service once they come back because realistically speaking, we do not see that our fight to this pandemic may come to an end anytime soon.

We all have our fair share of sacrifice during this pandemic even those who are not in the frontline but manages to follow the right protocols especially when outside home and in public places. But I would like to commend and salute how brave and compassionate our people in the medical field are. Even if sometimes we lose hope if we can really fight and overcome this battle, a lot of medical staffs still report on duty and take good care of your sick relatives while risking their lives and their families. So, please honor or simply be thankful and respect them. Not because I or anybody ask you to do so, but because every one of them deserves it.

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