Resilient seems to be the word of the pandemic. It appears daily in our email, social media pages, and even Zoom calls. I have heard it constantly from professors, friends, and family, who watched as I moved across the country, completed online classes, and grappled with major repairs on my house—all amidst the changes that COVID-19 has created. I’ve heard continuously that I am strong and resilient, so why do I feel so useless?
As a senior nursing student, I understand grieving over cancelled graduations and end-of-the-year celebrations. Mourning the loss of these milestones feels unavoidable. I feel like I’m grieving an additional and greater loss, though—the loss of clinical time and senior practicums. I feel my new clinical skills are being wasted on virtual simulations, while these very same skills are vital to hospitals everywhere.
As nursing students, we are taught to be selfless patient advocates, but as I sit in my room watching lectures on Zoom and studying for the nursing board exam, I feel lost. Since new graduate programs are being postponed, I applied to volunteer with a local hospital on my days without school to help balance these feelings of meaninglessness. Unfortunately, this was only met with a call explaining my school schedule was too time consuming to help. So, I continue to sit and wait. I wonder what the universe is trying to teach us graduating seniors. What are we supposed to learn from these frustrations?
I have decided that this is an opportunity: a chance to study, write, review, and prepare. Time to finally write that article, to review confusing material in-depth, to start studying for the nursing board exam, and to really prepare for my future as a registered nurse. I may be unable to practice in a clinical setting, but I am not lost.
If we cannot join our fellow nurses in the field, the best we can do is hold down the scholarly fort until they return. Nursing students from all years, especially seniors, should take this time to finalize their theses, read journal articles, and prepare for patient care in this ever-changing environment. As nurses in all practice areas spend shift after shift caring for our future patients, let us prepare to give phenomenal care. Our new goal can be to graduate as the most prepared class of new registered nurses the world has ever seen. And as we mourn the time that would have been spent in celebration, let us celebrate the potential of new accomplishments, new knowledge, and new ways to care for our patients.
Madison Germuska recently graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, USA. She is a member of Sigma’s Omicron Rho Chapter at Hartwick College.