The impact of Covid-19 on new registrants and what this means for our profession’s future.

Now, anyone who knows me knows just how much I hate the warlike rhetoric that is often used when discussing nursing, particularly concerning the Covid-19 pandemic and our reaction as the nursing profession towards it.

We are nurses, not soldiers. And we have not been conscripted to fight in the frontlines. I genuinely dislike the term “frontline” worker and find it an exclusive term, discounting many of our valuable nursing colleagues who do not work in direct patient-facing roles.

That being said, with the second peak of Covid-19 unquestionably raising its head, six months into my first staff nurse role, working in infectious diseases, I do feel for the first time that it does feel like we are at war. I can empathise with soldiers, and members of the armed forces, placed into dangerous situations as a part of their job and everyday lives.

Let me preface this by saying, I have a hugely supportive team of nursing and multidisciplinary colleagues. But I would be lying if I said I did not feel an impending sense of worry about the unknown every day when I go into work. Sometimes, this even affects me sleeping beforehand.

Primarily, I worry about the patients I look after, and their family members, friends and loved ones, who are often alienated from them due to government policy that quite rightly prevents them visiting. But, I too worry about my colleagues. And, yes, selfishly, I do worry about myself and the impact it would have on my loved ones if I were to contract Covid-19.

Nothing could have ever prepared us newly registered nurses to start our careers during a global pandemic. Our adrenaline got us through the first wave. It had to. We had no choice, and things were moving and changing so quickly.

But now I worry so much about the emotional impact this protracted period will have on all of us nurses, not just newly registered nurses, but all of as human beings. It is impossible to do our roles and detach ourselves from our humanity. The majority of us got into nursing because we wanted to make a difference to people. And that is a human act.

I genuinely worry about the post-traumatic stress we may experience due to what we have seen and been exposed to; the emotional burnout we may feel, and what all of this means for the future nursing profession. I wish I had an answer; I genuinely wish I did. But I think this recuperation period will take us years.

So, what can I say? Because I don’t want this blog post to seem all doom and gloom. I guess, what I want, and hope is that our nursing and healthcare leaders acknowledge just how much support we newly registered nurses will require to help us get over this period, alongside all of our colleagues. However, I hope that they do not only acknowledge this but act upon it. And quickly. Because quite frankly, this has been a baptism of fire for all of us. We know nursing retention within the first two years is already a significant problem, and we can’t afford to lose any nurses. For those of us who go on to become our future nursing and healthcare leaders, never forget what we have learnt during this period. Let this define what kind of leaders we will become.

Most importantly, as one human being to another, please stay safe. Your physical, mental, and spiritual health is so important. There is no no material value you can place on this.

Please see an attached link for the RCN’s country-specific covid-19 and your mental well-being links:

All my love Craig

Published by RCN Newly Qualified Nurses

The voice of newly qualified nurses within the Royal College of Nursing. Providing support from six months pre-registration throughout preceptorship.

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