An Interview with a Nursing Student on the Pandemic

This week, I had the pleasure to speak with a nursing student Justina Recchia at the University of Delaware. During this past summer, she worked as a Patient Care Assistant (PCA) at the local hospital in her hometown. When she originally applied for this position, Justina had no idea that coronavirus would have such a heavy influence on her day-to-day activities. 

Her Campus: What year are you at the University of Delaware and how long have you wanted to be a nurse?

Justina Recchia: I am a senior at the University of Delaware. I have always wanted to work in the medical field but I started liking the idea of nursing when I began applying to colleges my senior year.

HC: Do you have any specific nursing you’d like to do in the future? Have you had the opportunity to have first hand experience in this type of nursing yet?

JR: The idea of working in the operating room is very appealing to me. Sadly, I have no first hand experience there other than the field experience I had, where I only observed the operation.

HC: Have you ever worked as a PCA before? If not, what other jobs have you done in a hospital?

JR: This is my first year as a PCA. Before I got this job, I volunteered in many different parts of the hospital. 

HC: What were your daily tasks as a PCA?

JR: I had many different responsibilities as a PCA. I was responsible for taking vitals every 4 hours. As well as vitals, I had to take blood sugars on select patients. I would assist patients to the bathroom or change them. If a patient chose to, I would help them bathe. I changed linens and cleaned rooms when patients left. If the nurse asked, I would draw blood and do ECGs on patients. I also discharged patients whenever they were allowed to leave. 

HC: What type of patients did you have as a PCA?

JR: The floor I worked on was a med-surg floor. This meant I worked with a variety of patients. Some patients were waiting to go to surgery while others were there for a sickness. Sometimes we had patients going through alcohol withdrawal. Other patients were just there for chemotherapy for the day.

HC: Which of those tasked had to be altered because of Coronavirus precautions?

JR: All the tasks were slightly altered in some way due to the coronavirus. For example, the patients were required to wear a mask whenever I entered their room. Another example is there were no visitors allowed in the hospital. 

HC: How many patients did you have with Coronavirus while you worked as a PCA?

JR: Although I was originally supposed to work on one floor, this became the COVID-19 floor so I was moved. I did not end up working with any COVID patients.

HC: Were the amount of patients with Coronavirus at your hospital lower than average for hospitals?

JR: The largest amount of Coronavirus patients when I was there were 4. Throughout the summer, this number got lower and eventually we only had 1 patient.

HC: In your opinion, which post-Coronavirus precautions will remain in place after Coronavirus is gone?

JR: I think hand-washing will be more strict in the hospitals. The use of hand-sanitizer will be replaced with washing of the hands. I also think that visitors will be screened before they enter the hospital.

HC: How did hospital protocol change overall for you?

JR: Every time I entered the hospital, I had to have my temperature taken and was handed a new mask provided by the hospital. I also had to wear protective goggles whenever I was on the floor. We were originally screened once a week during coronavirus, but this went down to once a month. My orientation for this job was held online because the hospital administrators did not want so many people in the same room at once. 

Justina’s experience is not unique, nurses all across the country are working to ensure that exposure to Coronavirus is extremely limited within hospitals. If you have a health care worker in your life, make sure to thank them for the sacrifices they are making for our safety.