Nurses act as a liaison between patients and doctors. They make significant sacrifices for the sake of public well-being and health.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that the duties of a nurse are never easy.
To recognise nurses’ contributions to society, the International Nurses Day (ICN) is observed annually on May 12, which falls today.
This year’s ICN will emphasise the importance of protecting nurses’ rights to transform the health system to meet the needs of individuals and communities.
New Sarawak Tribune spoke to a nurse who wished to be known only as Susan Mulan. She shared her experiences, especially on the challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Susan, who has served for over 20 years in nursing, said when the pandemic first struck, health workers were taken aback.
“I was transferred to Serian during the outbreak of COVID-19. During that time, the virus caused anxiety to health workers.
“In the early days of the outbreak, some clients came in healthy, but the next day they were sent to the intensive care unit (ICU).
“So, everyone was scared. In fact, most of us were afraid to be sent to work in a quarantine centre,” she said.
Susan recalled that matrons with nursing sisters, including supervisors, had to handle most of the COVID patients.
“They were the ones who took care of the patients at quarantine centres, collected COVID-19 swabs and so on,” she revealed.
Despite having to battle her own fears and anxiety, as a senior she said she would always lend moral support to her subordinates whenever they felt demotivated or dispirited.
She stressed that it was important to remain calm to ensure those under her supervision could conduct their duties accordingly.
“Back then, even comforting words from Director General of Health Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah would always boost our mood and faith that this pandemic would soon be over.”
Susan revealed that none of the health workers were forced to carry out a task unwillingly, adding all of them were very supportive of one another.
“Without anyone being left behind, the nurses along with specialist doctors, district health officers (DHOs) and others went to the field to serve the people.
“Indeed, sometimes there were those who feared being infected. But that’s our job.
“When the top leaders came to help, we feelt reassured. In fact, as frontliners, there should be no fear in facing the outbreak,” she said.
Susan assured that even though there were challenges in performing one’s duties as a nurse, it was indeed a very rewarding job, and advised those who had the passion in serving and taking care of others to pursue their dream.
“Indeed, there are days where I find myself going home drained, but seeing patients and their family members light up at the new lease on life provides me with great relief.”
Susan said all frontliners were hard-pressed to deliver the best to members of public.
“Among the challenges we health workers faced during the pandemic was the workload. We worked non-stop. And most staff worked for 60 days without leave.
“Our clinic operates from Monday to Friday. But during the outbreak, we worked straight seven days in rotation to make sure that the people were able to receive our services.
“It’s even harder to wear a jumpsuit during the day. We sweat so much that it felt like in a sauna.”
In maintaining public health, nurses sometimes were at the peak of their limits.
There were times when some of the nurses had to stay back at their premises to perform their duties as usual despite being shorthanded.
“One will feel burdened when one has to do not only one’s job but also other people’s task. So, I would always remind my subordinate to take a short break during working hours and would advise them to take leave if things become overwhelming,” she said.