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Becoming a nurse during a pandemic

“I started my job here in March and that is when it started.”

Cayla L. came to NMC Health in 2020, right at the rise of COVID-19. The experience wasn’t what she expected as her first job as a registered nurse, but one that helped her grow as a caretaker.

“We weren’t doing surgeries, it was really slow. And then all of a sudden it picked up and we were taking medical overflow.”

With the first variant of COVID-19 spiking in the community, NMC Health had to transition the surgery recovery wing of our facility to ground zero for patients critically ill with coronavirus.

While Cayla is a registered nurse with many capabilities and capacities, she went to school to specialize in treating patients recovering from surgeries. The pandemic in March of 2020 shuttered all but emergency surgeries and with great demand for skilled nurses, she jumped in to help.

“I learned a different side of nursing than I even wanted to do.”

Since working at NMC Health, Cayla hasn’t seen a day without coworkers covered in PPE. Just going to the Sunflower Café and seeing her coworkers without masks while they eat was a bit of a shock. She rarely sees a face in the hospital without the minimum of  a surgical mask, so it is like meeting someone new for the first time without a mask.

Entering any role in a hospital during this pandemic has been a startling experience. Nurses get into healthcare to help others; the amount of unpreventable death COVID has inflicted is causing trauma for caretakers. It is believed this one of the reasons for staffing shortages in the healthcare sector, but at NMC Health, we have ways to cope and heal. 

Building up our staff and listening to their needs is paramount to the NMC Health mission.

“They nurtured me. They’ve built me up. They’ve encouraged me through all these hard times. It’s just been a wonderful environment to grow as a nurse.”

Teamwork makes the dreamwork; it sounds like a cliché, but at NMC Health, we are a team. We score when a patients gets to go home, and the game plan we develop to make that happen requires we work together, and work together well.

All of our staff are given opportunities to grow. We’ve had people start an housekeeping and growing into CNAs working on their LPN and eventually RN licenses.

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