Disclaimer: if you believe our current administration is handling this pandemic well or you believe they’ve done all they can to support our country; we’re going to have a difference of opinion. And that’s okay.
The truth is, I’m not on the front line of this pandemic as of now. It seems like a no brainer, right? I’m an RN so automatically I should jump into “hero” mode. Isn’t this what I went to school for? I am in the small pool of people considered an essential worker by my title, so what went wrong?
Flash back to early March, the calm before the storm. Trips were still being booked, hair was being done and removed from all the right places, and mimosas were flowing.
Meanwhile, the world was watching Italy struggle. Maybe the more appropriate word should be drowning; their healthcare system was overwhelmed in less than 2 weeks!
Instead, at that time, our designated leader was downplaying the bio threat and telling us not to worry. We were really watching from the sidelines like “damn that’s crazy, sorry to those countries”; convincing ourselves it wouldn’t get that bad in the US.
I fell for the “okie doke” and I know I’m not alone. I can’t speak for everyone, but I was definitely in denial! Despite keeping up with all the data and research since December, I didn’t want to believe Corona virus (Cardi voice) would have a direct impact on my life. I was determined to “keep living my life while being extra cautious” and “not live in fear.”
Fast forward to mid March. Coachella and many other large events are cancelled. The CDC recommends ALL elective and non-urgent procedures to be postponed until further notice. Hospitals seemed reluctant at first, but eventually they followed suit. Elective procedures bring in so much revenue for hospitals and for them to lose money, I knew ‘ish was about to get realer than real (word to Meg).
Next, my then manager in Baltimore cancelled all travel nurse contracts, as expected. Who’s going to pay a group of people 10 hours a day to recover 1-5 patients? For reference we did 15-30 procedures daily.
Usually, when the budget needs to be adjusted, hospitals will cancel hours and contracts of travel/per diem/registry/resource nurses. Which makes sense; travel nurses are expensive and you have to keep your permanent staff happy (a term used very loosely).
I then began looking for contracts only to submit and have every position put on hold due to the CDC recommendation. And any hospital ignoring those recommendations was for sure a red flag!
I began to feel desperate, I started scrambling, and my anxiety was peaking. My anxiety presents as nausea, chest pain, body aches and fatigue – it’s exhausting and has me questioning if I have the “rona” everyday!
I have bills, financial goals and a wanderlust addiction. I NEED TO WORK. In the 5 years I have worked as a nurse, I have never been without a job willingly or not had something lined up. Isn’t one of the best perks of being a nurse – job security?
So, I start considering going back to inpatient nursing despite all the anxiety it gave me. I ask my recruiters if hospitals will consider me despite my time out of the game.
Being a registered nurse is a very broad career, but one size doesn’t fit all. Switching or returning to specialties is not as simple as I wish it were. And for that reason, it has been a real struggle to find a job – contract or permanent position.
Part two of this blog will cover what I thought could’ve happened to prevent myself and many other unemployed nurses from being laid off. A “shoulda coulda woulda” type of post.
P.S. – I miss brunch.