July 30, 2020

Class of 2020: New nurses reflect on first work experiences during vulnerable times

Two recent nursing graduates summoned to long-term care talk about the joy they found working with residents -- and how they learned fast
UCalgary Nursing graduates at convocation
UCalgary Nursing grads at convocation

How’s work life for new nurses in these unusual times? Abhilasha Gupta has connected with fellow nursing graduates Alyssa Braybrook and Emily Codling to find out. Here are their first-hand accounts as new nurses caring for the senior population during the pandemic.

Alyssa Braybrook, Graduate Nurse, BN’20, UCalgary Nursing
Braybrook says b
eing involved during these difficult times has only made her more confident in her choice of profession.

“Graduating with a degree in health care during a global pandemic has significantly impacted my transition into the profession of nursing. When I chose to pursue nursing, I did not have a clear vision of what I wanted my career to look like. I quickly developed a passion for critical care through my experiences in the emergency department and the intensive care unit during my undergraduate degree. However, given the challenges posed in health care as a result of COVID-19, the importance of adaptability in nursing has become absolutely paramount.

Entering into this profession during a global pandemic meant helping out anywhere I was needed; this led me to work in a long-term care facility immediately after completing my NCLEX.

This allowed me to get involved in health care where nurses were desperately needed and pushed me to expand my clinical knowledge by challenging my weaknesses. 

"Mental health is an area of nursing that I had not had a great deal of experience in. Working on a dementia unit in long-term care challenged me to develop this area of knowledge and develop my weaknesses as a registered nurse (into strengths). The independence required by the nursing team in long-term care also helped me recognize the importance of a nurse’s role to the interprofessional team, when communication with physicians transitioned predominantly to telephone contact as a result of COVID-19. Thorough assessments and critical thinking are crucial as we are in direct contact with the residents and are able, and required, to pick up on any complications.

Expressing compassion and ensuring family-centered care also requires adaptability during these trying times. With a strict “no visitor” policy, it is important as a nurse to understand and respond appropriately to the added hardships experienced by residents and their families. It is an indescribable feeling to know that people are trusting you to care for their loved ones when they are not able to be physically present.

“I am thankful to have had the opportunity to develop a strong bond with many of the residents in long-term care and to continue to be there for them despite COVID-19 restricting their families from visiting.

The residents that I am privileged to work with have had a huge impact on my perspective as a registered nurse; they give me a reason to be excited to go to work every day. Overall, I believe the challenges posed by COVID-19 have strengthened my overall competence and adaptability as an individual and a registered nurse.”

Being involved during these difficult times has only made me even more confident in my choice of profession.”

Nursing student at UCalgary

Alyssa Braybrook

Emily Codling, Graduate Nurse, BN’20, UCalgary Nursing
Emily hopes to find work as an RN in Grande Prairie.

"It is hard to know where to start when talking about my experiences as a new graduate during COVID-19. It feels like it has been many years since nursing school despite it only being a few months. Before even finishing my clinical hours, I noticed my unit was rapidly hiring new staff to prepare for COVID. The unit managers were even coming to work in scrubs so they could help if needed. Shortly after, I got a job at a senior’s living facility as a resident screener assessing seniors for symptoms of COVID. I was glad to have a job and I met some truly wonderful people. Working at the seniors’ facility got me excited about working to my full scope of practice as a nurse.

It also happens that I am getting married in August! I personally would not recommend getting married during a global pandemic. If nursing does not work out for me, I believe I will have a career in wedding planning as I have re-planned mine many times in the last few months.

Throughout this pandemic, I have tried my best to stay positive and be grateful for all the things in my life. My wedding is mostly planned. I am writing the NCLEX at the end of July and studying has been going well. My family and I are healthy and my fiancé still has his job so we will be moving to Grande Prairie in the fall. I am optimistic I will get a job there where I will be able to help others and start my career as a registered nurse.”

UCalgary Nursing graduate

Emily Codling

UCalgary resources on COVID-19