Over the last weeks here we have had to adjust to a new normal with life in lockdown, which has led to many changes in our day to day lives.
As nurses and student nurses, the pandemic has affected us individually and as a collective. Working remotely may have led to feelings of isolation and low mood.
Everyone has different personal responsibilities and concerns. People have lost their jobs and livelihoods. We, as nurses have suffered the loss of lives of our colleagues internationally and we may fear for the lives of our family, friends and peers.
Like many students across the world, our nursing students faced uncertainty in relation to their clinical placement and their exams due to social distancing regulations and safety concerns related to coronavirus.
Moreover, this is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife and our plans to celebrate this and International Nurses Day had to be cancelled, which was disappointing for students.
We usually have a big student-led celebration for International Nurses Day, so there was some low morale in our regular update meetings about this. I suggested that I could facilitate a session for anyone who would be interested in writing about their experience.
After the first session it became clear that these students were 100% committed to this project and so we became a small writing club. We talked about writing as a form of self-reflection and to make sense of situations.
As English is not their first language, it was a good opportunity to develop their skills. They had a choice of any topic, but the focus quickly became on writing a short blog on their experience of coronavirus.
After four hour-long sessions, they all produced pieces of work not only showcasing their work, but expressing their thoughts and feelings during the pandemic and how they have coped. Some of our students chose to volunteer in a screening centre for coronavirus. It was helpful for them to tell their story and I think you will agree it is important that their stories are told.
Student nurses, it might not feel like it right now, but trust me, you will get there. There may be unforeseen blocks and delays, but your university are here to support you and make sure you reach your potential and qualify as a nurse. If you are struggling to make sense of your experience you could try writing, journaling or self-reflection, you may find it helpful.
Coronavirus has cast a shadow over our lives, but we must turn our faces to the sun and have fortitude and hope. Remember, compassion and kindness crucial in these times as we adjust to ‘the new normal’.
Dr Maeve O’Connell is lecturer in nursing, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Bahrain