By Megan C., Travel RN
I have been trying to compose a blog about being a travel nurse during the Coronavirus for about two weeks now. I started writing and stopped so many times, as I just could not put the words down. Usually, when I write, it comes to me easily if it is something in which I feel passionate. But to be honest, this has been the most challenging writing I have ever done. Most of us are tired of hearing about the virus, upset about what it has done to our lives, are scared of ourselves and our family members getting the virus, and the list goes on. As a travel nurse, I have met many challenges with the Coronavirus, both on the frontlines and off. With these challenges in mind, I decided to write my truth, how I have been affected, and what my thoughts are as a travel nurse during these times.
As a traveler to a new facility, I have experienced a lot of challenges. I started at a new facility here in New Hampshire during the direct hit of the virus. The facility was unfamiliar to me, and I was going through frequent policy changes. The policies for the treatment of patients with Coronavirus and the procedural changes were daily, and sometimes, multiple times a day. Along with policy changes, I was also experiencing the reuse of personal protective equipment (PPE). All nurses are trained to never reuse PPE, so this brought questions and fear. Even though reusing PPE, an unfamiliar facility, and forever changing policy was enough, I also had frontline exposure to the virus. I followed proper protocol and procedure but still left work that day anxious and mentally tired. I wore the same N95 mask for my whole shift, which then left marks and soreness to my face. Needless to say, this has been some of the brutally honest perspectives of a traveling nurse during a pandemic.
Although all of these challenges have been presented to my nursing career, I have also chosen to try to focus on the support and hopeful aspects that our healthcare team in the United States has in its possession. As a blogger and social media influencer, the amount of seen social media support has provided a light at the end of the tunnel for me. I have seen other nursing stories and heard their experiences with the Coronavirus, both travel nurses and stationary nurses. This allowed me to know that I am not the only nurse going through these tough times. It also provided a sense of support from other nurses and frontline workers. It also gives us the ability to confide in each other for support.
Along with social media and additional nursing support, I have also received unconditional support from my travel company. The company has persistently reminded us that we are in this together, and they support us in any way they can as a company. Travel Nurses Inc. has set up compensation policies for those travelers who are infected with the virus, stay in contact with us to give us updated information as it comes, and have provided social media support and thanks as well. Just a couple of days ago, I spoke with my travel recruiter on the phone for about 30 minutes. The conversation struck because I have lost my travel contract due to elective surgical cases being postponed due to the virus. The need for my position as a surgical circulating registered nurse was no longer needed. So even though the conversation was brought up because of this, it gave me positive energy as well. It was nice to have the support of my recruiter to discuss what will come, where I can expect to go next and when, and the future as a traveler. It was also nice to just chit chat about what we have been doing during these quarantine times and how our states have been affected. The support and conversation were much needed, thank you, Shane. Another experience I have had in New England is the outpouring support from the community. It strikes me as incredible and also that our efforts are not going unnoticed.
Even though most of us don’t want to speak the truth about how the virus has negatively impacted us, it helps to hear it. It helps to hear from similar frontline workers or just individuals living through it out on the frontlines. It helps because it composes togetherness and helps us to find ways of coping. So I hope that by you reading this blog, you gather that you are not in this alone. That there are ways to help each other through this. Whether you are on the frontlines or not, we will overcome this thing they call “The Coronavirus.”