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On the Front Lines

NikkiMy name is Nikki Nandlal and I graduated from Ontario Tech University's Collaborative Program in June 2018. I work as a Registered Nurse at Markham Stouffville Hospital in the Float Pool Department. I really feel that Ontario Tech University has prepared for me for this career. There is nothing more rewarding than waking up and knowing that you have purpose. I chose a career that allows me to care for people in their most vulnerable times. Whether it be their final hours of life or during a process of recovery, I am there. 

As a front-line worker throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, from the beginning, it was very worrisome thinking about the uncertainty about how bad things were going to get before it got better. I have been exposed to the virus every day and I take care of very ill patients who are isolated and alone. There are days where I leave my 12-hour shift exhausted mentally and physically. For instance, due to the contagious nature of the illness, hospitals were forced to limit, and often forbid, visitation rights to family members. To prevent loneliness and keep family informed and involved, we implemented the use of iPads as a source of communication so patients can communicate with their families. It is very emotional to be there facilitating and listening to these conversations occur.

Also, I have realized the importance of caring for our mental health. I enjoy cooking as a pastime. For many health-care workers, the toll of the pandemic goes beyond physical exhaustion. COVID-19 has eaten away at the emotional core of our work. We are exhausted but we still don’t get that mental break. My advice to anyone is to keep checking in with yourself and others. All that we have been doing is work all the time.Nikki at work

Throughout the pandemic, I have been very inspired by my fellow nurse colleagues, doctors, and interdisciplinary team members because everyone is putting their families at risk by going to work, and are doing the best that they can. The group camaraderie and teamwork are what helps deliver extraordinary care and helps me get through a difficult shift. Additionally, I have had the privilege of working alongside my own mother. My mom becoming a nurse was a contributing factor of me becoming a nurse. It is a great pleasure having someone I am close to completely understand the type of work and busy days I endure. We were able to experience the happiness of receiving the Pfizer vaccine together. To us both, it was the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Overall, the hospitals have come a long way since the start of the pandemic in preparing for spikes in infection numbers and surges of people being admitted to ICUs. Being a nurse at this time, I do feel I have been given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others by caring for others in their time of need, just as you would want someone to do for you if you were in their place.

Editor: Thank you Nikki for your service and for sharing your story.

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