Doctor wearing face shield and PPE to check patient, protect safety
HealthAugust 30, 2021

Reflections on starting nursing during the COVID-19 pandemic

By: Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN
The beginning of nursing practice is always stressful, no matter when or where a new nurse begins working. But becoming a new nurse during the 2020 global pandemic was unexpected for many.

In the latest edition of American Journal of Nursing1, one new nurse shares her perspective on jumping into healthcare during the crisis.

From nursing student to pandemic practitioner

Alicia Sgroi, BSN, RN began working as an RN on a medical-surgical unit in February 2020. At the time, she and her colleagues knew a new coronavirus was coming to the United States. But the impact of the virus wasn’t yet understood.

When the first confirmed Covid-19 cases appeared in March in Florida, Sgroi became anxious and frightened. She worried about being thrown into caring for pandemic patients, especially with no experience and after seeing the working conditions of nurses in other states like New York.

The first Covid unit at her facility pulled team members from other hospital units — and Sgroi didn’t worry. As a new nurse, she wasn’t eligible for the float pool and wouldn’t be part of the Covid unit staff. But as Florida started to open back up and cases again began to climb, she and others on her med/surg unit found out that it would be fully converted to a Covid-positive step-down unit.

By that point, Sgroi had only been a nurse for four months. She quickly learned that being unprepared to take care of patients wasn’t an option. She created a routine for donning PPE and washing her hands, and she focused her efforts to be as safe as possible before and during all patient encounters.

Surprisingly, Sgroi notes she felt a sense of relief when entering patient rooms. She describes feeling comfortable and calm caring for these people. And even though she has had at least one patient die from Covid-19 complications, she says she cannot imagine working with any other patient population. The compassion and preparedness she has learned will help shape her entire nursing career.

Sgroi remarks that she appreciates being able to practice what she loves while really making a difference in the lives of her patients. At the end of her essay, Sgroi reflects that she is exactly where she is supposed to be, and that she feels an overall sense of contentment with her choice of career.

Read the Article on Nursing Center
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN
Freelance Health and Medical Content Writer, Wolters Kluwer Health
Sarah has over nine years’ experience in various clinical areas, including surgery, endocrinology, family practice, and pharmaceuticals. She began writing professionally in 2016 as a way to use her medical knowledge beyond the bedside to help educate and inform healthcare consumers and providers.
  1. Sgroi, BSN, RN, Alicia. “2020: What a Time to Become a Nurse.” NursingCenter, Aug. 2021, nursingcenter.com/journalarticle?Article_ID=5984123&Journal_ID=54030&Issue_ID=5983908.
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