One question I have been asked a lot and have grown to dislike is ”why did you become a nurse?” or ”why nursing? ”. The only time I wasn’t defensive about it was when the interview panel at the training institution asked me. I smiled, adjusted myself in the chair and began to speak dreamingly.
”I have been a sickly person all my life until recently. While I went through that phase of my life, nurses were the people I saw most. It became registered in my mind. My last admission to the hospital was on the very day I completed shs. That illness hit me hard and I was so weak. Some nurses treated me badly, others were indifferent but there was one who treated me with much kindness. After encountering her, I looked forward to seeing her every night and she really was a hope to cling to in those moments. Her words were so encouraging. I resolved in my heart that I will become a nurse like her and give hope too. That is my reason for pursuing nursing.”
I came back to reality after narrating my magical resolve only to see them staring at me blankly. No expression, nothing.
I went out of the room and while I waited for the result of the quiz we had to come, I heard other applicants reciting stories similar to mine. No wonder they looked at me like that but I promise my story isn’t rehearsed. I later got to know it’s a cliché in nursing.
If anyone asks me on any day why I chose nursing, I would repeat the same reason and my eyes will be dreamy every time I say it, or maybe not.
Getting into nursing school was blissful but the experience wasn’t as pleasant. Each time I was tempted to quit, I reminded myself of my why. I reminded myself that someone needs me out there, so though it was hard, I pushed on.
I completed and started working, and 11 months into working, we hear about a novel coronavirus which is highly infectious and has a high death rate.
Before we could brace ourselves, it forcefully allowed itself into our Ghana and into our hospitals. My hospital has recorded a number of cases so far with one death.
Being a nurse during this pandemic, I realized that Ghana, and the world at large, was not prepared for this at all. We would have stocked up PPEs, we would have made facilities available, we would have done a lot of things in preparation to meet this virus. Unfortunately, we were hit. Working in a country like Ghana in these times means just gambling with your life or committing your life into God’s hands. There are very limited personal protective equipment and the worse part is that avoiding contact is not possible in the health sector, or nursing to be precise.
Being a nurse in these times comes with fear and weak knees. It comes with a high survival rate for only those with a heart willing to sacrifice.
I duff my hat off to all the frontliners who are helping us fight. You are the true heroes.
We confirmed cases at our unit and instantly, life left me. The fear of being exposed is enough to make you curse the day you became a nurse. Personally, I went to work with my heart in my stomach, praying to God to protect me. You can’t help but just wish you could stay home instead of risking your life every day. After the news was broken, I felt myself going down with a fever. I went home, told my folks about being exposed and quarantined myself waiting for the worse to happen.
”These are times that we see the real nurses from the quack ones. Those who did it for the money and those who did it for the passion.” That is what they will say.
It’s one thing, however, to love a thing and it’s another thing knowing that pursuing that thing could lead to the end of your life. Working without PPEs is ok at any other given time but in this season, it’s a death sentence. Our nurse’s pledge told us to serve everyone equally but if forgot to state what we should do in the face of death.
The temptation to run is inevitable but it all comes down again to your why. I won’t hold anyone in contempt if the person doesn’t want to be a nurse in these times. That was my initial response. Now, however, I recognize that being called a nurse means you take care of the sick. The sick, including those infected with the coronavirus.
I am self quarantining now but when I go back soon, I will go back with a smile facing fear and fulfilling purpose.
In these times, we can summarize everything with this saying ”nursing is a calling”.