Seton Hall students and faculty in the College of Nursing shared their stories and thoughts on being a future health care worker during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caroline Pascasio, a sophomore nursing major, said her drive to become a nurse has remained steadfast in the face of the pandemic. She said she always knew she wanted to enter a field where she could help other people and feel as though she was having a direct impact on their lives.
“I remember when we were in the peak of COVID, I would always see on the news that they needed more nurses,” Pascasio said. “I wished I was just a few years older so I would have the proper training to help.”
The pandemic has also highlighted many stories from health care workers. Colleen Osbahr, a sophomore nursing major, worked in a hospital over the summer and said she experienced a situation like this firsthand.
“One woman was working as a nurse, and her mother tested positive for COVID and was in the same hospital as her,” Osbahr said. “She was not allowed by regulations to go into her mother’s room, and unfortunately, her mother passed away.”
Oshbar said the pandemic has been stressful for nurses working in “understaffed” hospitals with limited resources.
“All nurses are putting the health of not only themselves, but also potentially their families, on the line for the benefit of the greater good,” she said.
Dr. Katherine Connolly, a clinical assistant professor at Seton Hall, has been teaching nursing students amid the pandemic.
“I had the opportunity to work as a nurse practitioner in the hospital setting during the height of the COVID-19 crisis,” Connolly said. “I was very proud of the leadership and collegiality I observed given the uncertainty of the situation. I will never forget the deserted hallways decorated with beautiful cards of encouragement and thanks coming from school children or the loving support from the surrounding community.”
Some nursing students said they worry about adapting to the lasting changes that the coronavirus could leave on their field.
“This pandemic has definitely made me anxious because I know that our nursing curriculum will be different than anything it has ever been,” Pascasio said. “It’s just a little nerve-wracking because you don’t know what to expect. It’s not like you can ask an upperclassman because they’ve never done a clinical in the era of COVID.”
Connolly said she has heard many pandemic stories from her students.
“These students described feelings of helplessness as they were unable to assist COVID-19 patients due to shortages in PPE, which was reserved for doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists,” Connolly said. “As the supply of PPE improved—allowing many to move into the role of bedside provider—the task that most touched their hearts was assisting patients to FaceTime with family members at home, especially when the patient was not doing well.”
Alexander Krukar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.