Photo: Kayla Henderson, The West Georgian

Navigating Nursing in the Pandemic

Starch white top, bottoms and white clogs. A small logo, easily identifiable, on the right chest in red lettering ‘UWG Nursing.’ The white attire of all students from the college, one uniform assigned for clinicals, the others for classes. Nursing students going to class wear an all-blue pair. Smaller details, such as stethoscope color, headbands, or even watch type, are all customizable.

Regarded as one of the top nursing schools in the state, the Carrollton and Newnan Campus offer state of the art facilities to help prepare future nurses for success. Nursing students work with professional in-field instructors in hospitals located in Carrollton or Newnan throughout four semesters, known as clinicals.

“I don’t mind either of the scrubs, you get used to them after so many weeks of wearing them,” says Carlie Hill, a junior nursing major at the Newnan campus. “During clinicals, we wear two masks, and goggles or a face shield. I have goggles. I think they fit my face better.”

When Carlie started Nursing school two years ago she did not have a need to buy a bulk pack of masks at Old Navy. No one did. Professors and students scrambled to readjust and transition to online learning last March. Learning to become a nurse through online labs and classes was a more difficult task. As classes returned in the fall, Nursing school amped back up. Classes are now able to be held in person, while some changes have been made to help find a new normal. Class times were shortened, practice labs were closed off for free use and class sizes condensed. Thankfully, despite all of the setbacks, nursing students are still able to have clinicals in person biweekly—something all nurses have to complete before graduation.

Most nursing students would agree that they feel as if their quality of education and how they are learning has not made them feel less prepared for the workforce beyond college nor has it stopped the fear of the unknowns.

“Everyone knows that nursing school is terrifying,” says Carlie. “Being in nursing school during a pandemic is worse. It really tests you if you actually want to be doing this for the rest of your life. It also shows the realities of Healthcare.

“In the beginning, people were praising healthcare workers, and while we appreciate the recognition, people need to be proactive in wearing their masks, social distancing and helping to prevent the spread,” continued Carlie. “From seeing healthcare workers out in the field right now, I see their struggles of working tirelessly, bruised faces from masks, no breaks and really long hours. And I still will walk into a store, and people won’t put a mask on.”

With the uncertainty of the next three semesters, Carlie hopes that things will get better. UWG is currently in Phase 1A of its Vaccination Program. This includes students who will be working in clinical settings to have the option to be administered the vaccine if they choose so, but it is not required.

“I personally think that we should all get the vaccine, and I know that it is important. It’s science. We should trust it.”

After graduation, Carlie hopes to work in a Women’s Health Clinic. She hopes to help women prioritize their own bodies and health. She knows regardless of where she works in the future and no matter what color scrubs she goes on to wear next, she is thankful for the blue and white ones that got her there first.



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