Pandemic Perspectives: What it’s like studying to become a nurse during COVID-19

I was in my final year of nursing, both nervous and excited to finally be entering the profession. I was also the social chair of our school’s nursing association, planning events such as pizza lunches and paint nights. 

Outside of school, I attended dance and fitness classes, spent time with friends and loved any excuse to travel. 

Then COVID-19 hit.

My grad was pushed back three months, because I couldn’t do my clinical practice in the hospital before this fall. This was frustrating at first (I am still disappointed).

Marlo Pereira-Edwards (with her sidekick Blue), is finishing up nursing school studies from home. ‘A to-do list helps me stay organized,’ she says. (Submitted by Marlo Pereira-Edwards)

My classes are online, so I feel disconnected from my peers. We were a tight group and it would have been exciting to finish our last term together. 

Now that we are able to go to the hospital again for clinical practice, I’m happy to get some normalcy back.

It’s nerve-racking being in the hospitals when COVID-19 cases are so high. I have the choice to opt out without any penalty, but that would prolong the school year even further.

I am not expected to care for patients who have or who are suspected to have COVID-19. If there is an outbreak in our unit and it is unsafe, I will be pulled out of clinical and have to complete my hours in another way (possibly through simulation.).

I find hope in people showing how resilient they can be– Marlo Pereira-Edwards

Everything surrounding school feels so uncertain, which creates a lot of stress. 

I could be pulled out of clinical practice at any time. Every instructor has a different way of delivering online classes.

I just try to go with the flow and not worry about what I can’t control.

Marlo Pereira-Edwards seeks solace in the sunset and nature. ‘I just try to go with the flow and not worry about what I can’t control,’ she says. (Submitted by Marlo Pereira-Edwards)

I make sure to take breaks, even when I feel busy, because I can’t always focus for as long as I could before the pandemic. I think having my work, school and life all take place in the same space makes it really easy to get distracted, so I need to give my brain time to recharge. 

It’s hard to stay organized. Even though I have a daily planner and am using it more than ever, it seems I only remember meetings right before they start. I’m feeling really scatterbrained. 

WATCH | Marlo shares her tips on managing pandemic restrictions:  

Nursing student Marlo Pereira-Edwards shares her tips about managing pandemic restrictions while finishing studies. 0:44

A to-do list helps me stay organized. I schedule less than what I think I can accomplish in a day, so that I don’t have the added stress of trying to find time in another day to complete what I didn’t finish.

To feel more connected, I’ve been trying to plan more FaceTime dates with friends. I know I can be hard on myself, so I am taking life one day at a time, to help take some of the pressure off.

When all this is over, I can’t wait to hug my friends again– Marlo Pereira-Edwards

Online fitness classes— three nights a week — is a forced break and mental health reset. I try to take at least one day off every week, where I don’t have to think about homework at all. Listening to music or a podcast when I am waking up helps me feel energized for the day; it also helps me wind down before bed.

I spend time with my parents and my dog Blue. I pamper myself by using a hand lotion that was maybe more expensive. 

The passion and empathy I have seen from people around me is inspiring.

Black Lives Matter

The attention to the Black Lives Matter movement this summer really woke a lot of people up to what some communities have experienced their whole lives. This passion gives me a lot of hope that we can create a safe and more inclusive world for marginalized communities.

We are living in a very strange and stressful time. It is inspiring to see people working together to provide food and warm clothes to those in need, fitness classes at discounted rates and people grocery shopping for those who are high risk. 

I find hope in people showing how resilient they can be, by continuing to grow and make change happen during this tough time. Even just getting out of bed every day shows resilience, because this pandemic has been so taxing and exhausting.

When this is all over, I can’t wait to hug my friends again.

I want to travel and enjoy all the festivals Winnipeg has to offer. 

CBC’s Pandemic Perspectives is a series that invites Manitobans to share their personal perspectives on the collective experience of life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This column is part of CBC’s Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ.