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A Day in the Life of a Working Nurse During COVID-19

Monday, May 11, 2020 10:36 AM

In celebration of Nurses Week (May 6-12) we spoke with Mairead McLoughlin, a registered nurse in NorthShore's Emergency Department. During COVID-19, McLoughlin has been in the "thick" of it, which entails working closely with patients, while providing emotional and emergency critical care support. It hasn't been an easy ride, but with the support of NorthShore, her fellow nurses, friends and family, it's been a smoother journey. 

Here, McLoughlin offers us what it's like working during the pandemic. 

Mairead McLoughlin

What is the current mood with other nurses/staff in the Emergency Room?
We are ER nurses. We have always dealt with heavy cases head-on with the utmost care while still keeping our light, comical demeanor. However, this pandemic has been different. Despite our census being lower than normal, we are seeing very critically ill patients that need immediate, lifesaving care. We lean on each other to maintain our emotional stability.

Working as a nurse, how has your role changed/stayed the same during COVID-19?
One of the biggest changes that we have experienced is the amount of PPE we utilize. We are very fortunate to have the PPE access that we do. Additionally, we must double-check before entering a room to stay safe whereas before, we would not think twice about entering a patient’s room. Ultimately, our role as a nurse has stayed the same, which is providing exceptional care and concern for our patients.

Did you expect to ever work a situation like COVID-19 after graduating from nursing school?
To be completely honest, I never thought I would be working through a pandemic. While we learned about it in school, I never believed it would become a reality.

How is your department staying positive?
The positivity that strikes me the most is the outpouring of support and love from the community. From seeing the numerous handmade “Thank You” signs lining our nursing station to all the meals and gift bags we have received from families and organizations around the community. Additionally, we all show each other positivity within our department by the teamwork and support we show one another.

How are all of the nurses working together during this time?
Within our unit, we are working together by helping whenever we are needed whether it be an extra set of hands during an emergency for the primary nurse or just being an ear to listen for a co-worker. Our teamwork has always been the forefront of what makes us a great department and that has only increased in the face of this pandemic.

How are all of the nurses overcoming challenges right now? How are you overcoming any challenges?
Right now, to overcome challenges, I have been spending quality time with my family laughing, cooking, and exercising to keep my spirits high. I truly owe it to my family for being by my side throughout this whole journey.

What’s the best part about being a nurse?
Patient care truly is the best part of being a nurse. Being in the Emergency Department, we do not often hear the outcome of our patients, but on the odd occasion that we do hear positive results, it provides us all with hope. Additionally, all the recognition and gratitude from the community, country, and world has been so humbling and reminds us daily of why we chose the profession we did. It’s incredibly rewarding.

Any advice for other nurses during this critical time?
To any student seeking their degree in nursing, I would say push through because we need you. One thing this pandemic has taught is that the work we do here is truly essential and I am so humbled to come to work every day with the possibility to save a life.