A Day in the Life of a

Ward Nurse

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Story by Angela M.

Illustrated by Rolando Jr Ferido

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My day usually starts getting up from bed at 5:30 a.m...

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...and force myself to have breakfast because working as a nurse means the day is never the same and you never know when will you have the time to go for a break.

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Then I get myself ready for work and aim to leave the house by 6:30 a.m.

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At 07:30 AM, we start our handover from night staff where the responsibility of patient care is passed and taken over by oncoming nurses.

Handover is important for us nurses because it allows us to know more patient information i.e. medical and social history, what has been done for a patient and what still needs to be done.

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Prior to the pandemic, a typical shift will be made up of 5 staffs – 1 team leader/nurse-in-charge, 2 nurses and 2 healthcare assistants.

Our ward has a total of 14 beds where the nurse-to-patient ratio is usually 1 nurse to 7 patients.

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, 25% of our regular staff have to be moved to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to cover staff shortage which changed our regular staffing ratio. I experienced shifts where there are only 2 nurses and 1 healthcare assistant to take care of 14 patients. Usually, we have bank staffs to cover staff shortage, however because of the Covid-19, they do not want to take extra shifts anymore due to fear of contracting covid.

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Going back to nurses’ usual routine, after handover, night staff will go home and day shift takes over. In the ward floor, nurses begin their medication rounds, typically at 08:00 AM, where we give patient’s prescribed medications.

We have to make sure that we are giving the right medications with the right dose at the right time to the right patient as one less/more tablet can cause a patient to deteriorate and in worst case scenario, cause death.

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This is also a crucial time because at the same time, doctors come down to the wards to do their doctors’ ward rounds. On a ward round, doctors review each patient under their team and the nurse-in-charge must join the ward round so that we are updated with the clinical plans so we must balance our time and focus on doing medication and doctors’ ward rounds at the same time. We have three medications rounds in a day – 08:00 in the morning, 12:00 at lunchtime and 18:00 at dinner time.

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We try to complete all patient’s care plans for the day, chase tests and results but the ward can become so busy and there will jobs that are still pending by the end of the shift. Therefore it’s important that these are passed on to the nurses taking over the next shift. At 20:00, the night staff then take over. Most of the time, nurses are forced to do unpaid and unwanted overtime for at least 1 hour or more to complete their tasks such as documentation.

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After an exhausting shift, I then get change, get the bus home or if it’s too late and I still have another shift the next day, I will take the cab, so I can get home at, at least, 22:00.

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When I get home, I go straight to the bathroom, have a shower, sanitize my bags, shoes and all that I’ve used for the day – because I never know if I’m bringing the virus at home risking my family’s lives.

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Then I take my very late dinner, prepare my uniform and stuff for the next shift. I aim to sleep at least before midnight, which leaves me at least 5 hours of sleep. Then the next day, the cycle repeats.

When I am not working, I usually sleep and stay in bed the whole day because I feel the exhaustion of my previous shifts. Enjoying simple tasks like these – sleeping, staying in bed, watching shows are what I consider leisure times when I’m not at work.

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When I’m working, I leave the house whilst my family are still sleeping and then I get home at night when it’s also already sleeping time. My family usually works office hours which means, the only time we can see each other is during weekends, and that is if, I don’t have shifts during the weekend.

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Working as a nurse, I learnt to value things that I usually ignore – enjoying meal times with my family rather than skipping meals for my favorite TV show, catching up with my boyfriend rather than scrolling through my phone when we’re together and playing with my pet.

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