Unpaid internships, long work hours and a high-stress environment during the best of times, but now add COVID-19 to that list and it becomes even harder to imagine what nurses go through.
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Exhausted after another strenuous working day, Victoria Tomkins is a 20-year-old apprentice nurse assisting on the front line at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital during the pandemic. Working harder than ever before whilst we're stuck at home, she makes it to her bed after a 13 hour shift and all she can wish for is a Netflix binge.
"The hardest part has definitely been that I can't see people I used to see or just do simple things like having coffee with my friends or anything. I just feel as if I do the same s**t everyday and I'm so so tired of it," said Tompkins.
Student nurses have never had it easy.
Unpaid internships, long work hours and a high-stress environment during the best of times, but now add COVID-19 to that list and it becomes even harder to imagine what they are going through.
"A normal day is waking up early, going to work for 8 to 13 hours- it really depends on the situation- and then coming home to shower, everyday." Without being paid, (except for only third year students recently), student nurses also miss out on insurance, despite the high risk of catching COVID on the wards.
The pressure to keep working as positive cases are on their highest rise yet, adds more challenges for hospital staff. Even before the pandemic overwhelmed the NHS, Victoria had difficult experiences she'll never forget. She takes a moment to look back at one incident which has never left her thoughts, "a memory that will stick with me is the face of my elderly patient that almost went into cardiac arrest. Just the look in her eyes made me feel terrified for her as I could tell she was in pain and wasn't ready to go."
Clap for our carers? I only heard it once; I was working the rest of the time
Clap for our carers? I only heard it once; I was working the rest of the time conversations.indy100.com
After weeks of reports of a new strand of virus flooding in from all different corners of the globe, the UK implemented its most draconian laws since World War II in a bid to keep us safe.
Although times are tough and student nurses are only just receiving their much needed and essential vaccinations, Victoria loves her job and always will. She explains, "the best part of my job would be that I know I'm helping my patients, even if it's just having a little conversation with them as they can't see their family, it could possibly make their day just sitting and chatting away to me."
The government is yet to make a return of The NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme which covered students in 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic. With support for nurses stronger than ever, Victoria expresses her feelings, "I feel pretty appreciated.
Sometimes on the phone, my patients families tell me how much they appreciate the care we are giving. I'm not worried or bothered if anyone appreciates me, I'm doing it for myself and my patients, not for appreciation from others."
There is still hope on the horizon, and Victoria is holding on for better days to come. She's keeping optimistic as she makes plans for the day COVID is no more, "the first thing I'll do is book time off and relax! Also going to try and fly to Italy and see all my favorite people, because I haven't seen them for nearly a year."
Let's hope that day comes sooner than later, but for now, Victoria keeps working to keep us all safe.
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