By Jacquelyn Nesbeth
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on hospitals and nurses around the nation, Stevenson University nursing students (the largest and longest-running major at Stevenson) and alumni discuss the exhaustive toll and the surprising benefits that their community is experiencing.
Megan Waskiewicz, a Stevenson University graduate, is now a registered nurse at The University of Maryland Medical Center in Downtown Baltimore City, With six months on the job so far, she knows first-hand what it’s like to deal with Covid-19 victims on the front lines.
“Although it has been stressful, it’s still a great learning experience every shift,” she said. “It’s hard when your usual patient load is one to three and that’s intermediate-level care patients but then it gets bumped up to four because we’re short.”
Waskiewicz said that the nursing shortages break down procedures adds to a nurse’s workload and can even affect the quality of care.
“There are things that the doctors want at a certain time, bloodwork that needs to be due at a certain time because based on a certain level of drugs in their blood the pharmacy has to dose their medication for the next time that it’s due,” she said. “That part gets really stressful, and when we’re short and have things to do left and right, some of that gets pushed to the side, and that makes things not efficient and not as safe.”
While some hospitals, like the Baltimore Washington Medical Center, are giving their employees bonuses for working more as well as working with Covid patients, others are not. When asked if the nurses are receiving benefits or bonuses for working more during the pandemic Waskiewicz said, “At my hospital, right now I don’t think so.”
“I remember at my other job, Baltimore Washington Medical Center… they were offering a covid bonus for full-time employees,” she said. “Every shift you work you get like a $300 bonus or something like that, just for working with covid patients. And I was a part-time employee, so I got it like once when I was off school and worked a bit more.
“At my current hospital, that’s actually a topic that comes up almost every staff meeting,” she added. “And the managers are still trying to talk the higher-ups about it to see we can do it. But as of now, it hasn’t really gone anywhere.”
Blaine Yohannes, a senior Stevenson University nursing student, is doing her clinical at Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. When asked about her expectations of how working in a hospital would go and how her clinical have been going for the past two years, she said “So far, my clinical have been ok, because last semester we did the full six days.”
She said her feelings of excitement to help others were mostly prevalent but also mentioned the underlying disappointment in her lack of first working hospital experiences.
“There’s a lot of stress going on, especially with the nursing shortage so I would want to be one of those people that would help out and come in and fill up some spots and be of any help that I can,” said Yohannes.
As Yohannes progressed through her academics went from nursing classes to clinical and practicum.
“In junior year at the beginning of when COVID cases started to rise, we only had two days of clinicals, and it wasn’t a great experience for having our first clinicals because we couldn’t do much and we didn’t have that much experience because of covid getting in the way,” said Yohannes.
“It did increase my drive but also it’s giving me more stress because you’re putting yourself out there and you’re one of the first responders, so you want to be careful that you’re not going to get sick as often because nurses do have three days of twelve-hour shifts, or eight-hour shifts five days a week,” said Yohannes.